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Home > Sports > EPL > Report

FIFA opposes Premier League's overseas plan

February 15, 2008 10:38 IST

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has opposed plans by the English Premier League to play matches abroad and warned that the proposal could harm England's [Images] bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

"This is abuse. The rich Premier League is trying to get richer and wants to expand the importance of that league," the head of world soccer's governing body told the BBC on Thursday.

"This does not take into consideration the fans of the clubs and it gives the impression that they just want to go on tour to make some money."

England's top 20 clubs have agreed to play league matches overseas from the 2010-11 season under a proposal unveiled by the Premier League last week.

The fixtures, planned to be staged over one weekend in January in cities which had bid for the hosting rights, would extend the league season to 39 matches per club from 38.

"When it comes to a decision of the executive committee concerning this matter of the 39th round, and I am sure they will be against it, then it will not have a positive impact on the bid from England for the World Cup in 2018," Blatter added.


Blatter rejected claims by Premier League chief executive Peter Scudamore that FIFA could not stop the plan if the clubs received the go-ahead from England's Football Association (FA).

"It is not true," he said. "Even if the FA did sanction it, all the national associations receiving these clubs would have to sanction it also. This will be very difficult.

"In addition to that, the FIFA executive committee will apply article two of the FIFA statutes: 'to prevent all methods or practices which might jeopardise the integrity of matches or competitions or give rise to abuse of association football'."

The United Arab Emirates Football Association welcomed the idea but the plans have been rejected by the Asian Football Confederation and Football Federation Australia, a potential host country for the proposed extra games.

UEFA president Michel Platini called the proposal a "strange and comical idea" and there has been a chorus of disapproval from fans and the British media.

The idea was also criticised on Friday by the manager of one of the Premier League's biggest clubs, Liverpool's Rafael Benitez.

"I don't like it," Benitez told British media. "I think to play another game in another country is not right for this competition. You must play here in England with the same opportunities for everyone.

"If it's just about money, you can organise a tournament in Hong Kong with the top four if you want and you'll have the money that you want. But to change the competition in this way is not fair."

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