Fifa confirm 39th game no-go

No to 39th game and goal-line technology

Fifa's executive committee have unanimously opposed the Premier League's plan for overseas matches.

The plan which became known as the '39th game' was discussed in Zurich on Friday by football's governing body.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter revealed that even former Football Association chairman Geoff Thompson opposed the idea.

"This idea for the Premier League to play a 39th round outside the country does not work," stated Blatter.

"They would be playing 12 hours away west and east and 24 hours difference in the south.

"Even the former chairman of the FA, Mr Geoff Thompson, said we should oppose it."

Blatter and his fellow executive committee members covered a wide range of subjects in Switzerland.

Further bad news for the Premier League came when Blatter confirmed that plans for goal-line technology - championed by the English league - would definitely be scrapped.

"Both the football committee, chaired by Franz Beckenbauer, and the technical committee supported the International FA Board and said why should we resort to really complicated goal-line technology," he said.

"Such as the microchip in the ball that works in 95 per cent of the cases but not 100 per cent reliability, or the famous Hawkeye which is appropriate for tennis as the players can stop the game to challenge the decision."

Homegrown plan

Fifa also revealed that their plan to eventually have six homegrown players in every starting XI would be a success - despite concerns that it would contravene European labour laws.

"It is indeed an issue which worries the family of football and it should eventually be implemented with the help of European institutions," Blatter said.

"The executive committee has unanimously stated this is a positive solution but we do not want to clash with European Union laws concerning free movement of workers.

"We will meet in Brussels on April 8 and 9 to speak to people from the Commission and European Parliament."

Spanish issue

Blatter also played down any threat that Spain could be excluded from Fifa and thus barred from playing at Euro 2008.

Fifa have stringent rules in place preventing any government from interfering with the running of the FA in its country.

The Spanish government has been accused of trying to interfere in Spanish FA elections, but Blatter suggested that the issue was no longer a problem.

"It was not a threat and it was not pressure. I was simply explaining the situation," he said.

"If the government continues in its attempt to harm the federation then we will have no alternative but to intervene - but I am sure this will not happen.

"I'm confident we shall find a solution but the government should not interfere.

"It is better that the Spanish government simply withdraws this order which does not correspond with regulations accepted for sports in Spain in general meaning elections should take place only at the end of year."

Blatter also said that Fifa would wait on a court case involving South American football president Nicolas Leoz before making any comment.

Leoz has been named in court documents as having been paid 65,000 in backhanders by officials from Fifa's former marketing agency ISL.

Six ISL employees face charges but neither Leoz nor any other Fifa official is in the dock.

"We are waiting for the judgement at the end of the case," he said.

"Let us wait and see what justice says and then we will have a look at that. It is a case in progress and it would be bad for me to intervene. I will make all comments when the case is closed.

"I have briefly informed my colleagues of what is happening in Zug this week.

"Neither members of FIFA committees nor administration were charged in these proceedings.

"It is up to us to wait for the ruling. ISL is not a topic for the executive committee it is a matter for Zug."


Finally, Blatter said he would issue a personal request to clubs to release over-age players for the Olympic football tournament in Beijing this summer even though they were not forced to.

"We cannot oblige the clubs to release these over-age players. But as Fifa president I would ask the clubs to abide by the Olympic spirit and release these players so they can play in the Olympic Games," he concluded.