Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Houghton brands Blatter 'a disgrace'

Ireland legend Ray Houghton has branded FIFA president Sepp Blatter ' a disgrace' and accused him of ridiculing the Irish public after laughing at, and blowing out of proportion the FAI's request to be the 33rd team at the World Cup finals. The FAI are said to be bemused by the manner in which Blatter highlighted that particular aspect of the meeting (33rd team) and, privately, are well aware that it's a fanciful notion. Nor, when they actually met with FIFA last Friday, did the FAI propose any kind of mechanism for accommodating an extra team in the World Cup finals in South Africa'

Indeed, a written submission made by the FAI to FIFA contained no mention of that suggestion and instead focused on improvements to the game such as video technology, extra officials and sanctions for individuals who bend the rules. 'In fact, in their written submission to FIFA preceding the meeting, the FAI had not even mentioned the idea of filling an extra berth at next summer’s finals in South Africa, instead concentrating on issues designed to prevent incidents such as the controversial French goal in Paris from occurring again.

Blatter and the executive committee chuckled as he announced this and Houghton, who won 73 Irish caps, said: 'What he's doing is taking the mickey out of the Irish public as if they don't really matter.

'It's a disgrace. They were laughing at the Irish public which is shocking. The players worked so hard for two years to get to the World Cup and then some fellow's laughing about it and he's the head of FIFA.

'I can't believe he's in the position he is. When you're looking for leadership qualities and someone to make a stand...what's going to happen to Thierry Henry? Nothing.

'What we're saying now is that you can cheat and score and it's alright. That sends out the wrong message to the kids and what we need is someone to say 'this is not going to happen.'

Ex-Liverpool & Aston Villa midfielder Houghton added: 'I think had it been England involved it would have been very similar to Ireland because FIFA don't think too highly of the English.

'Blatter's quick to criticise Premier League clubs for spending too much money but I didn't hear too much when Real Madrid spent £80 million on Ronaldo and £60 million on Kaka. Blatter didn't say the Spanish were spending too much.
'If it was France, Germany or Spain and certainly Brazil or Argentina there would have been mayhem. You only have to look at what they did to the play-off seedings.

'The biggest tournament in the world and they left it until three weeks before the play-offs to decide there would be seeds

'When you look at the way he's treated Ireland and the competition it underlines how he has not led FIFA particularly well. He's a man who does what he wants even though I couldn't tell you what he does. To be ridiculed twice, laughing at the Irish after the seedings change, is shocking.'

Blatter was roundly criticised for his silence last week and made his first foray into the global storm with comments in 'L'Equipe' on Sunday detailing correspondence with Thierry Henry and effectively absolving the French skipper while blaming match referee Hansson. "I definitely gained an advantage by pulling a defender's jersey in order to score a goal. And I didn't go and see the referee to tell him about it," said Blatter, in a slightly unfortunate reference to his days as an amateur player.

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