Vol. 5 Num 558 Wed. December 21, 2005  

Blatter thinks otherwise

FIFA chief Sepp Blatter, facing court action by clubs angry at receiving no compensation for players injured in international matches, said Tuesday clubs should be paid for releasing players.

"My opinion is that clubs deserve a minimum of respect for releasing players and they should be paid from the allocation," he told a press conference.

He pointed out that FIFA will allocate seven million Swiss francs (4.5 million euros/5.4 million dollars) to every one of the 32 finalists in the 2006 World Cup, with the winners picking up 24 millions (15.5 million euros/18.5 million dollars).

"National associations should not only pay their players but think about the clubs," he said.

Blatter said the FIFA executive committee would discuss the subject on March 17-18.

Asked if the French federation would have to pay Chelsea for players released for the World Cup, he replied: "Yes if the principle is establised."

But he baulked at the idea of African countries paying rich European clubs like the English champions.

"You can't ask Ivory Coast to pay Chelsea for (Didier) Drogba. That would be turning the world on its head, the rich would get richer and the poor poorer. Each case would to be examined individually."

The 2006 World Cup in Germany will generate 1.7 billion euros (two billion dollars), FIFA General Secretary Urs Linsi said 10 days ago, with FIFA expecting to make a profit of around 110 million euros.

French champions Lyon and Belgian side Charleroi, backed by the G14 group of elite European clubs, have already started court proceedings against FIFA for being forced to release players who were then injured in what they call meaningless matches.

The G14 group wants FIFA to provide insurance and compensation to clubs for players who are injured while representing their countries.

It says FIFA's regulations are an abuse of the body's dominant position.

FIFA refuses to recognise or negotiate with the G14 group.

G14 argues that FIFA's refusal to contribute towards players' salaries - even though clubs lose money when they suffer injuries in international matches - is illegal.

FIFA are accused of being in breach of European Union law by abusing their dominant market position.

The clubs are seeking a share of FIFA's revenues from the World Cup.

Some national federations pay for their players to be released for international duty. German clubs receive 6,000 euros per player from the German federation but poorer federations, particularly in Latin America and Africa, cannot afford to.

The G14 says clubs are not asking for money every time a player is released but a percentage of the income from major competitions.