Monday, March 7, 2011
Reuters - 3/7/11
FIFA executive committee member Chuck Blazer criticised his colleagues on world soocer's governing body last week but still believes its decision-making process is sound and reflects a worldwide consensus.
The portly 65-year-old American with the Santa Claus beard, a member of the powerful exco for the last 15 years, joined FIFA's critics after his colleagues refused to give his CONCACAF confederation an extra place at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Nevertheless, he told Reuters in an interview that while no major organisation can please everyone all the time, FIFA's "representative democracy" cannot be bettered.
Blazer was not slow to complain when he thought the exco got last week's decision wrong and quickly informed followers on his Twitter account of his chagrin at the outcome.
He was upset that the North and Central American and Caribbean countries will only have three finalists -- and possibly a fourth through the playoffs.
While CONCACAF are stuck with the same 3.5 places they had for last year's World Cup in South Africa, there will possibly be six South American countries at Brazil 2014, out of the 10 vying for places in the qualifiers, and five from Africa.
Last week Blazer described the exco decision not to change the allocation of slots "completely ludicrous," adding a criticism people often level at FIFA: "Everyone was protecting their own interests rather than doing what was right".
But he defended the world governing body to Reuters when he said: "In any group where you have different points of view, you will always have dissatisfaction with decisions that are taken.
"FIFA has to deal with the passions and interests of people... When it comes to football, your feeling is always based on passion. That's a great thing, but it also happens to make us the target of criticism when it comes down to it.
"Even my own criticism last week regarding CONCACAF's number of teams in the 2014 World Cup came from passion. But we are a representative democracy.
"There are 24 people from all around the world on the FIFA exco and we represent a lot of different points of view. But, as far as I am concerned, you cannot get better than a representative democracy."
Blazer was talking after the annual meeting of the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the body responsible for formulating the laws of the game.
Formed in 1886, for many years it was a little known offshoot comprising the British associations and FIFA that quietly tinkered around with the laws.
It now attracts lots of media attention especially when debating issues like goal-line technology or five-man refereeing systems. Blazer, naturally, has an interesting view of IFAB.
"It is not an anachronism, but the problem with IFAB from my perspective is that there are times when all eight members are from Europe -- we had that a couple of years ago.
"There are four statutory members from the British associations. We had the president and the general secretary of FIFA, the president of UEFA and the president of the referees' committee and that gave us all eight from Europe.
"That was not very good for the rest of the world.
"For example, IFAB this year has sanctioned the further testing of the five-man referee system for Euro 2012 with the additional assistant referees behind the goal but it's a different environment in Europe than it is elsewhere.
"How do we train extra referees? How do we recruit them in the rest of the world?
"I think, in some ways, IFAB is too narrow a group but, as long as they don't assume any responsibility for the way the game is played but are responsible as the custodians of the laws of the game, then it's not the worst thing in the world."
Blazer, though, is pleased the experiment with goal-line technology is continuing for another year.
"I know the debate was closed and then reopened but we need to do whatever we can to make the World Cup and the major events the best we can.
"As we live in a technological world, the more time you give for technology to prove itself, the more opportunities there are for the right answer to come along, so I am not concerned about the fact there is another year of experiments.
"If we can find something to make the game better, so be it."
Friday, March 4, 2011
FIFA will retain the same number of World Cup places for each confederation for the 2014 tournament but Brazil will take the hosts' spot given to South Africa for 2010.
South America has just 10 countries in its confederation CONMEBOL and already had four definite places without the hosts' spot, and the chance of another via a play-off.
Blazer also questioned why Africa should have five spots compared to CONCACAF's 3.5 given their relatively poor showing in the World Cup.
Blazer said: "It is completely ludicrous. I'm a great supporter of South American football but for them to have a possible six countries out of 10 is absurd. People say the hosts have always qualified as an extra but that is not true. The last two times we hosted the World Cup, in Mexico in 1986 and USA in 1994, we didn't get an extra spot - we only had two. Why should South America get an extra one? Everyone is protecting their own interests rather than doing what's right.''
CONCACAF had argued that with 40 member nations, one fifth of FIFA's total, they should have four automatic slots rather three with one possible via a play-off.
Blazer also pointed out that the success of Mexico and the USA in qualifying from the group stage of the 2010 finals contrasted with Africa, where Ghana was the only country from that continent to advance.
He added: "We had a 67% success rate, Africa had a 16% success. If Africa can go from two places to five in the last 14 years, why can we not go from two to four. This decision also means we will have to completely re-do our whole qualifying system.''