Soccerex Roundup - Pearce Excited About Olympics; Eaton on FIFA Whistle-blowing Scheme

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Team GB manager Stuart Pearce speaking at the Soccerex European Forum today (WFI)
(WFI) Team GB football manager Stuart Pearce says the Olympics are “one of the most exciting” tournaments to take place in England for its young British players.

Speaking on a panel about player development at the Soccerex European Forum in Manchester, Pearce agreed with concerns that there were not enough high level competitions for players aged 18-21 but highlighted the Olympics as a key tournament for the age group.

“I know there was concern about one or two of the British associations losing their independence but I think FIFA has waylaid that and the most important thing I’ve found in travelling around the country and picking out the players – not only English players – I want to consider is the excitement about the Olympics," he told delegates.

“If we have any level of success I think it could galvanise Great Britain and it really is one of the most exciting tournaments to take place at this age group here.”

Pearce, who is the full-time England U-21 manager, said the experience of playing at Euro 96 in England was the best experience of his career.

”The feel-good factor about playing a tournament on your own soil – the only chance I had was Euro 96 – is off the Richter scale," he said. “Hopefully we can harness all of that.”

Eaton Hopes FIFA Anti-corruption Plans Go Ahead

FIFA's outgoing head of security Chris Eaton says that his whistleblowing and amnesty programme is currently suspended by FIFA, but that it should be going ahead independently.

The programme was initiated to help combat match-fixing and would include a hotline for anyone to bring allegations about players, officials or football executives.

Eaton, who will shortly join the International Centre for Sport Security, told reporters of his initial disappointment that FIFA president Sepp Blatter decided to “freeze” the programme because of the current independent investigation into FIFA’s governance led by Professor Mark Pieth.

“It's true to say I was disappointed but I understood the way they saw this – I’m pleased they saw it as a valuable programme to put on in a total way [under governance committee].”

“The whistleblowing programme and the hotline would be an
FIFA's outgoing head of security Chris Eaton urged football's governing body to keep to his original whistle-blowing scheme (WFI)
independent organisation – it would be paid for and engaged by FIFA but it would be independent.”

Eaton also said he hoped that his original plans would not be watered down and that it was important for FIFA to be as clean as possible, following a torrid 18 months for the organisation that has been littered with bribery allegations against it senior members linked to first the World Cup bidding and then the FIFA presidential election campaign.

“I think any professional organisation that operates at a global level particularly when it’s a massive business such as FIFA needs to have these programmes to show their transparency," he added.

Houllier: St George's Park Can Boost England Team

Former Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier was another key speaker in the conference held at Manchester Central.

He claimed the opening of the new St George's Park, the English FA's new centre of excellence, could help the national team win the World Cup in 2022 in Qatar.

The English FA announced yesterday that they were looking for a technical director for the new centre based in the north of England, which is due to open its doors in September to help grow the game from grassroots level.

Houllier likened it to a similar moment in French footballing history when they opened ‘Clairefontaine’ in 1988 – 10 years later the national team went on to win the World Cup and the European Championships two years later.

Speaking to journalists outside the main conference hall, Houllier said: “It will bring unity, identity, philosophy – everything. It’s funny, this is the home of football and the home of football has no house! So it’s about time that it has a house.”

Houllier highlighted the reserve leagues in Spain and France as a reason for national success, and suggested a similar system in England and Italy may help both countries revitalise their ailing fortunes on the international scene.


By INSIDER's Christian Radnedge in Manchester

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