FIFA Vice President Chung Mong-Joon says he is “shocked and disappointed” at a proposal by his president, Sepp Blatter, to enforce new age limits on Olympic football players.
Chung says he will launch a campaign against a move by Blatter last week to cap the limit at 20 for players in the 2012 Olympics and eliminate wildcards.
Previously, teams could field athletes aged up to 23, plus three overage players.
The Blatter proposal, which requires approval by the FIFA general assembly in June in the Bahamas, “runs against the spirit of the Olympics,” Chung told reporters.
“I’m shocked and disappointed,” says the Korean, accusing Blatter of proceeding without consulting the FIFA Olympic committee.
Chung says other FIFA members agree with him because the last FIFA general assembly in 2006 had not reached a conclusion on this issue.
“I am shocked and disappointed that President Blatter mentioned that the Beijing Olympics should be the last event that the under-23 and wild card rules apply,” Chung says.
“It should be discussed in the Olympic committee first.
“Personally, I am sorry that he excluded me in a discussion about the Olympic issue. I head the Olympic Committee in the FIFA.”
He says he discussed the issue with other FIFA executive committee members during its meeting in Zurich on March 19-20.
“Many of them agreed with me that it is not right to push down the Olympic status,” he says.
FIFA, UEFA Reject WADA Rule
Two key football bodies – FIFA and European governing body UEFA – have rejected the World Anti-Doping Agency’s out-of-competition drug testing rule and asked for amendments to be made.
The WADA rule took effect Jan. 1 and requires athletes in all sports to give drug-testers three months’ notice of their whereabouts for one hour each day of the year.
But FIFA and UEFA say there are “fundamental differences” between an individual athlete training alone and one who spends six days a week training or playing with a team and is “thus easy to locate.”
Their stance is expected to heighten tensions with WADA, which has been determined to stand by its new anti-doping code. WADA believes surprise out-of-competition testing is the cornerstone of a credible anti-doping policy.
In a statement after Tuesday’s UEFA Executive Committee meeting, the soccer authorities asked WADA to reconsider the rule “in a spirit of collaboration in the fight against doping.”
The bodies also called for players to get a special exemption during their off-season, which typically runs from mid-May through the end of June.
FIFA and UEFA say they “do not accept that controls be undertaken during the short holiday period of players, in order to respect their private life.”
The confrontational statement comes four days after FIFA President Sepp Blatter insisted that football should not be held to the strictest standards of the new code.
The two bodies made one concession, accepting that individual players should face the same rules as track and field athletes if they were injured, serving a suspension or not taking part in the daily life of a club.
More than 25,000 doping tests are carried out in world soccer annually, with an average of 10 players testing positive each year from 2004-08.
WADA President John Fahey has insisted that the testing rule will not be changed so soon after the introduction of the revised code, which was finalized in November 2007 after lengthy consultation and a special conference — attended by FIFA — in Madrid.
He says giving athletes a holiday break from testing undermines the anti-doping fight and give cheats the freedom to start taking drugs.
Row Erupts Between FIFA, EPL Bosses
Premier League chief executive
Richard Scudamore has criticized FIFA’s plans to impose limits of foreign players as “xenophobic.”
Scudamore made the comment at the launch of a new initiative from Kick It Out, English football’s anti-racism body.
The so-called ‘6+5 Rule’ restricts clubs to a maximum of five foreigners in their starting lineups.
“I do struggle where nationalism, jingoism and patriotism stops and where actually some sort of xenophobic rhetoric takes over,” Scudamore said.
“And there is a certain amount of thatn the football world, when I keep getting told that, ‘How can English football be English football when there are not enough English players in a particular team?’
“I kind of struggle with that when everyone, probably bar David Beckham, qualified to play for England at the top level is playing at home.”
Scudamore and Blatter clashed at a meeting Monday at FIFA headquarters in Zurich over attempts to restrict foreign players.
Blatter’s push stems from a concern that the Premier League is harming other leagues by hoarding the world’s best players. He has accused Scudamore of being driven by generating wealth.
“He is working to make a lot of money and I’m working to have football as a social, cultural event around the world, being a school of life, bringing hope, bringing emotions. That’s the difference,” Blatter said.
Scudamore believes FIFA’s player quota plan – being personally driven by Blatter – sends out the wrong messages when football is still trying to eradicate racism.
World Cup Ticket Sales Pass One Million Mark
Applications for World Cup tickets have passed the one million mark, five days before the first phase of sales closes, FIFA has announced, adding that the figure excludes those made by South African residents through bank branches across the country.
Online applications have been received from more than 160 countries, led by South Africa, Britain and the United States.
The first sales phase, during which some 743,000 tickets are available to the general public, closes next Tuesday and a lottery in mid-April will determine the successful applicants.
FIFA says the number of applications has far exceeded its expectations despite the fact six million applications were received at the same stage of the sales process for the 2006 finals tournament in Germany.
A second sales phase runs from May 4 to Nov. 16 when tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Ticket sales for the Confederations Cup, an eight-team test event being held in South Africa this June, have increased by 10 percent since a marketing campaign was launched, a spokesman said.
But less than half the available tickets have been sold, despite the participation of World Cup winners Italy, European champions Spain and Brazil.
Qatar 2022 Announces Bid Committee Leadership
Chairman of the Qatar Bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, son of the Emir of Qatar, has announced the leadership of his bid committee.
Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani,
president of the Qatar Football Association, will be a member of the board of Qatar 2022.
A former Qatar national team star, he also played for club side Al-Rayyan which he later managed.
The CEO of the Bid will be Hassan Al-Thawadi, who is currently director of the legal department at the Qatar Investment Authority.
Al-Thawadi is also the Legal Council of Al-Sadd Sports Club and a former player at Qatar Club’s Youth Team.
Last week, a delegation from Qatar met FIFA President Sepp Blatter and Secretary General Jerome Valcke in Switzerland to officially submit the completed bid registration form.
“We believe it is time to bring the World Cup to the Middle East for the very first time. A World Cup in Qatar in 2022 would be the first global sports event to be hosted in the region,” Sheikh Mohammed says.
“What could be more fitting than it being the world’s favorite game that achieves this truly historic status?”
“Our bid truly epitomises FIFA’s slogan ‘For the Game, For the World.’ ”
The president of the Qatar Football Association, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, added: “We truly believe that a FIFA World Cup hosted by Qatar would be good for football. I know that Qatar will be able to guarantee an exceptional tournament for the players, the fans and for FIFA.”
Written by Anthony Stavrinos
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