Soccer

FIFA draws heavy criticism

2011-02-11 20:17
Sepp Blatter (File)

Geneva - FIFA has come under further attack for its perceived high-handed way of running world football.

The European Professional Football Leagues said Friday that FIFA takes unilateral decisions and appears to interfere in their members' business.

The 30-league group's "dissatisfaction" echoes the European Club Association's warning Tuesday that it was losing patience with FIFA president Sepp Blatter's organisation.

"The EPFL therefore invites FIFA to reconsider its decision-making process and enhance participative democracy," the leagues said in a statement.

Europe's leagues and clubs are unhappy that FIFA leaders publicly debated switching the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to a winter slot, potentially causing chaos for the European season.

They were only partly placated by Blatter's assurance Monday that the 2022 debate was "settled" in favor of a traditional summer slot.

Following a board meeting in Madrid, the leagues' group said it "cannot avoid expressing its dissatisfaction with the way such a significant matter was dealt with."

The Qatar situation also stirred up feelings about FIFA's management of the international calendar, which dictates when clubs must release their players for national team duty.

The leagues and clubs both pointed out this week that FIFA's executive committee added eight international match dates to "overburden" the 2011-2014 calendar last year without consulting them.

FIFA did not announce the changes in its official news release following a June 6-7 meeting in Johannesburg, and instead informed national federations in a circular letter two weeks later.

"This was another unilateral decision which causes major problems to leagues and clubs, taken without any prior explanation and consultation with those who it affects," the EPFL said.

The leagues said they "will not tolerate" calendar changes made in secret, and would "oppose any interference on matters of their exclusive competence such as the size of national leagues."

That warning apparently referred to Blatter's comment last month that he wanted smaller European leagues with fewer matches because players were too tired to peak at the World Cup.

The EPFL board is led by Premier League chairman Dave Richards and includes delegates from Europe's six highest-ranked leagues - England, Spain, Italy, Germany, France and Russia.

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