THE PRESIDENT OF FIFA AND EUROPE
1)- Europe at the World Cup
Today, Europe has fifteen teams that have qualified for the 2002 FIFA World Cup™ but in fact this figure is 13.5 places (bearing in mind that France qualified as world champions and half of a place was assured through a play-off with Asia).
To say that I intend to reduce the number of places allocated to Europe is just not true.
Basically, the FIFA Executive Committee unanimously agreed with my proposal last November to remove automatic qualification for the world champions. As I have been saying for the last two years, this would create a place for the Oceania (OFC), the only confederation currently without direct entry to the World Cup.
I still believe that places at the World Cup and any changes to the current system must be justified on the basis of sporting merit.
2) – The composition of the FIFA Executive Committee
The number of European representatives on the Executive Committee – that is eight, or one third – does not pose a problem in itself.
What I actually said was that it was difficult for the President of FIFA to steer the Executive Committee when, depending on the motion to be passed, these eight members form a group with another four or five other members to form a majority.
At no time did I question the current composition of the Executive Committee but simply suggested that all of the active parties of our family ought, in future, to be involved in the decision-making bodies of FIFA.
3) – The British vice-presidency of FIFA
As you know, I advocate the retention of this British tradition, which is based not only on a decision passed by the 1946 Congress in Luxembourg but also on a valid contract. I opposed a proposal to discuss amending the statutes of FIFA on this point at the Congress in Zurich in
August 2000, suggesting instead that it be discussed as part of the revision planned for 2004.
Moreover, I reiterated my full support of the IFAB at the last meeting in March 2002, to which the Presidents of the four British Associations present will testify.
4) – The World Cup every two years
When proposed in 1998, this idea was primarily intended to open the debate on coordinating the international match calendar and on the structure of our competitions. This idea has now been consigned to the past.
It is therefore ludicrous to suggest that it could come into effect as from 2004 when the schedules are being devised for the next two World Cups, in Germany in 2006 and in Africa in 2010.
5) – The FIFA Confederations Cup
It is important to firstly recall that this competition was devised at the request of the Asian confederation, AFC, with the aim of creating more intercontinental national team matches and this tournament still commands considerable interest among the confederations.
Moreover, last year’s event in Korea and Japan helped the two World Cup local organising committees to fine-tune arrangements for the forthcoming World Cup. Similarly, the teams taking part in the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2001, including France as European representatives, were
happy to learn from this experience from the point of view of their player and technical staff.
Regarding the 2003 and 2005 events, the last two tournaments that FIFA are committed to organising, I have to point out that two European national associations – Switzerland and France – have applied to host the 2003 event and Germany wishes to use the 2005 tournament as a dry
run for the 2006 World Cup.
Finally, I have never disputed the fact that once this contractual obligation has been accomplished (1999-2006), we should engage in serious discussion about the future of this competition.
6) – The Club World Championship
This competition is intended to do for clubs all around the world what the World Cup has done for national teams in little more than 25 years: to act as a superb opportunity to develop football and to encourage progress at club level.
The inaugural Club World Championship in Brazil (January 2000 and not 1999) also showed that the gaps between teams were less pronounced than expected and that this competition would be able to generate income (distributed to confederations and national association of the
Although the first event encountered scheduling problems and the second planned in 2001 suffered some insurmountable financial problems, future competitions could be included in the coordinated international match calendar whilst taking into account club, national and continental tournaments. The Club World Championship will be much more representative than the Toyota European/South American Cup. May I remind you that the latter event was established at a time when professional club football was prevalent on only two of the six continents.
From the financial point of view, several major European clubs, attracted by the title of ‘world champions’, and European television companies showed great interest in relaunching this competition and the Executive Committee decided it would be held in 2005.
Finally, this competition would represent a grand gesture from Europe by giving something back to the clubs around the world that are training exceptional talent that now makes the major European national leagues so exciting. It is a question of solidarity as in point 5 above.
7) – The presidency of FIFA
The President of FIFA is elected for four years by the 204 national associations, by choosing a person on the strength of his record and programme. It is he who has to present accounts to these 204 national associations and their presidents in the hope of being awarded a further
It is therefore logical and normal that this President has the executive and administrative tools to implement the programme for which he was elected. To prevent him from doing so would be to deprive the election of any real meaning, to undermine the role of the President – and
consequently FIFA – as well as the democracy that prevails there.
According to the Statutes, the President of FIFA is also chairman of the Executive Committee and must therefore act as both President of the federation and head of the administrative body.
As far as the General Secretary is concerned, his role – his duties and responsibilities – are described in the Statutes and list of duties. Discussing internal problems in public without consulting the President or the Executive Committee is tantamount to abandoning his administrative role to adopt a political stance, which is incompatible with his job.
8) – The so-called ‘one man show’
The Executive Committee is a basic and essential body of FIFA in accordance with the Statutes but it is not the elective body of the President; that is the Congress. The mere fact that the President launches new ideas and presents proposal does not constitute an expansion of his
It should also be pointed out that the meetings of the Executive Committee and Finance Committee has never been so numerous, and the Emergency Committee, an offshoot of the
Executive Committee, has on two occasions given me the mandate and sole power to settle the difficulties surrounding ISL-ISMM/Kirch and the issue of insurance for the 2002 FIFA World
It is also the FIFA President’s duty to defend the institution and especially now when the statutes are being manipulated by circumstantial coalitions for purely political ends or when the image of the institution is being harmed by issues that have nothing to do with football.
9) – The so-called ‘use of FIFA’s means for private political gain’
This accusation is unfounded and negated by the facts.
The Financial Assistance Programme pledged by João Havelange in 1996 benefits everyone without exception, including the 80 national associations which did not vote for me in 1998.
The Goal Programme that I launched with Michel Platini in 1999 and which is currently supervised by Mohamed bin Hammam represents just one of the commitments I made during my campaign in 1998. Would you point an accusing finger at me for failing to adhere to my pledges? What a strange perception of democracy!
What is more, this programme is managed by the Goal Bureau, chaired by Mohammed bin Hammam, and comprises one representative from each continent, including Angel Maria Villar Llona for Europe, President of the Spanish FA, a member of the FIFA Executive Committee and Vice-President of UEFA. There are frequent meetings with UEFA/EEAB and many projects in Eastern Europe are co-financed by FIFA and UEFA.
Finally, 117 countries around the world, including 20 in Europe, now benefit from this programme. FIFA does not choose them on political grounds, or implement sanctions or block a development project as a result of the FIFA presidential election.
10 – Financial transparency at FIFA
11 – The so-called ‘risky’ financial policy
The media campaign over the past few months has nothing to do with the financial situation of FIFA, which is sound, but is solely motivated by politics.
You have received several letters on this subject and we shall be debating the issues at the Extraordinary Congress in Seoul on 28 May.
12 – And where does football fit in with all of this?
This paragraph is hard to comprehend.
First of all, I do not travel for political reasons or for photo opportunities. I travel so as to become familiar with the environment of the national associations, to discuss their problems, their hopes and their project, to launch or inaugurate facilities made possible under Goal. I have been doing this for four years now, as my perception of the role of FIFA President and my dedication prompt me to leave the confines of Zurich to accomplish my mission as the ‘developer of football’ which I started 27 years ago. And not just a few months before an election.
On the subject of transfers – and after the fiasco of the Bosman judgment, which could have been avoided and which deregulated European and world football, we were compelled to find a solution to the deadlock and conflict with the European Commission and seek agreement on methods of stabilising the legal framework of football.
In Paderborn in June 1999, I relaunched political negotiations with the governments of the fifteen member states during the German presidency of the European Union. This initiative led to the signing of the Declaration of Nice on the specific characteristics of sport and was approved in December 2000 under the French presidency.
At the same time, contact was resumed with the European Commission. Negotiations proved to be complex, given the issues at stake, the legal obstacles and the initial diverging views of the European bodies. It was a protracted process and I was personally involved in the last few laps to be completed on 14 February and 5 March when the European Competition Commissioner, Mr Mario Monti, and I negotiated the closing chapters with the agreement of the President of UEFA.
It commanded great diplomacy, especially through the channels of Mr Franco Carraro as the President of the Italian League, to find new ways of compromising, to negotiate them and finally to sign the agreement on 5 March 2001.
Today – for the first time in almost ten years – there is no longer any legal conflict between football institutions and football representatives. FIFA is the first international sports federation to have set up a commission with equal representation of employers and employees from its professional sport. Relations between clubs and leagues have improved considerably in several
countries (Spain, Italy, England).
FIFA organised seminars on every continent and in major European countries to update clubs, leagues and national associations on the subject.
As for football, in my letter dated 16 April, I outlined my achievements, which speak for
– technical development in every sector (courses, infrastructure),
– directives from FIFA on safety in stadia,
– a conference against racism in Buenos Aires in July 2001,
– intensification of FIFA’s struggle against doping, and standardisation of sanctions,
– concentration on the educational role of football,
– launching professional refereeing.
13 – The role of the confederations
In my opinion, the confederations have an important role to propagate and support FIFA’s work in each of the continents for the sake of the national associations, while still respecting each other’s jurisdiction. This is very much the case in most of the confederations today.
But the role of the confederations, however powerful, is not to duplicate what FIFA does, to stand in for it by any means or to make decisions on world football before they have been debated at FIFA.
This role is under no circumstances to try to control or bypass, in other words obstruct direct contact between FIFA and its members. I need hardly remind you that FIFA is a federation of national associations.
They must not be prevented from expressing their views!
My plans for European and world football are to give and return to the 204 national associations the power that is rightfully theirs. The role of the confederations is to work hand in hand with FIFA and not in opposition to it.
14 – Conflicts of interest
These insinuations are in the same vein as those relating to the financial situation and are only motivated by the same reasons and propagated by the same methods. It is in fact the old story of the arsonist who cried ‘fire!’
You yourselves will be able to judge on the evidence at hand regarding my record and on the future. It was therefore imperative that I write to you to rectify certain claims and to reiterate that the enclosure in the UEFA President’s letter was a catalogue of allegations, distortions of the truth and statements designed to harm me.
Football for all and all for football.
Joseph S. Blatter
For more details contact:
Fifa Communications Division
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