ZURICH: Zvonimir Boban has slapped down Marco Van Basten over the latter’s proposals to turn association football into American football writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Dutchman Van Basten, after only four months as technical development chief of the world football federation, came up with a range of proposals from splitting matches into four quarters to sin bins to shootout changes and scrapping offside.
The International Board already has a study under way into the possible use of sin bins at junior level but most of the other proposals had long since been derided and discarded down the years.
FIFA has been embarrassed by Van Basten’s high-speed departure from the party line.
In an interview with Sportske Novosti Boban, the former Croatia World Cup star who is now a FIFA deputy general secretary, distanced FIFA from the former Milan and Holland hero’s display of lateral thinking.
Boban said: “Marco should have been more cautious in his statements and I was also personally responsible for the publication of such ideas because I had to review the statement first and authorise it later. His ideas and proposed changes were very revolutionary but it must be made clear that these were his personal opinions.
“He was speaking as Marco Van Basten , not as director of the FIFA football development sector. ”
World Cup expansion
Boban also defended the expansion of the World Cup to 48 finalists from 2026, adding: “This decision is important for football at the global level.
“Criticising FIFA is always popular . . . but no-one has ever presented and elaborated serious arguments to explain why FIFA should not change the World Cup format this way.”
One high-profile critic of World Cup expansion has been Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, chairman of the European Club Association and its representative on the executive committeee of UEFA.
Boban said he wanted to hear Rummenigge “clarify his arguments against the expansion of the World Cup of 2026 which is so worrying for ECA according to its latest statement.”
He repeated the justification quoted regularly by FIFA president Gianni Infantino that there were no longer any ‘little countries’ in international football judging by the successes of the likes of Iceland and Wales at Euro 2016 and Costa Rica at the 2014 World Cup.