KEIR RADNEDGE in PORT LOUIS: Sepp Blatter was hoist neatly by his own anti-discriminatory petard by Reuters’ man in Mauritius after FIFA Congress here.
The world federation’s president had taken every possible opportunity, over the previous week, to confirm his opposition to the vexed issue of age limits for football officials.
That had led, in part, to last Tuesday’s executive committee stand-off which saw the issues of both age and term limits within FIFA deferred until next year’s get-together in Sao Paulo.
A comparatively bland post-congress press conference was spiced up when Reuters’ Mike Collett asked Blatter how, in view of his opposition to age limits, he could justify an age limit on referees?
Blatter conceded that he could not. He thanked Collett for pointing up the inconsistency and promised the issue would be referred back to the referees’ committee.
FIFA referees, having accrued years of valuable experience at the highest level, are pensioned off currently at the arbitrary catch-all age of 45.
Asked if this were not equally as discriminatory as forcing competent officials to stand down at a particular age, the 77-year-old Swiss replied: “You are absolutely right.
“The referees committee has looked at this in recent years, but the moment has come for us to open this file again. We are missing the top referees and we have to have a look at this again.”
Earlier Blatter had appealed to the international media to engage with FIFA “in a spirit of dialogue and not confrontation.”
This appeared a perfect example of just that.