BRUSSELS: FIFA president Sepp Blatter followed up his criticism of pan-European proposals for Euro 2020 by denying this represented any personal criticism of Michel Platini.
However he did indirectly open up another area of disagreement over the organisation of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The president of European federation UEFA had come up with the scheme to spread the Euro 2020 finals around 13 cities after a lack of hosting interest in the overblown 24-team tournament.
In an interview last week with the German magazine Kicker Blatter had said that such a tournament would lack “heart and soul.”
Blatter’s salvo was seen as the latest incident in an undeclared campaign for the FIFA presidency in 2015. Platini and Blatter, who brought the Frenchman into FIFA in 1998, have also disagreed publicly over the introduction of goal-line technology.
Blatter was asked, in Knokke-Heist, to clarify his comments during a visit to Belgium to acknowledge 25 years’ service to FIFA by Michel D’Hooghe, the Belgian director who is a member of the world federation’ executive committee and chairman of the medical commission.
“I have no problem with the man [Platini] but occasionally with his ideas,” said Blatter. “In my view, Michel’s decision to spread the Euro finals among several countries is not a good one. But that’s merely my opinion.
“I have been closely involved in the organisation of a co-hosted World Cup in 2002, in Japan and South Korea. It was very difficult. As far as FIFA is concerned that sort of thing is finished.
“But UEFA is perfectly free to organise its own competition however it chooses.”
Blatter’s comment about co-hosting indicated that he has no intention of picking up on another Platini idea – that matches at the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar should be shared with neighbouring Gulf states.
Platini is also a voluble advocate for the 2022 finals to be switched to the winter months to avoid playing in searing summer temperatures.
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