Saturday, January 19, 2008

More Comments by Sepp Blatter about the Cup of Nations

The controversy over the timing of the African Cup of Nations won't die down.

Europe's top clubs hate to lose their players for up to a month while the Cup of Nations is going on. Europe is in the middle of their domestic and international schedules, so it hurts when some of their top players leave for Africa's premier sporting event.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter had some choice comments about what he thinks should happen.

Basically, the Cup should be moved to June and July to accommodate the European clubs.

Well, that didn't sit well with Issa Hayatou, president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), who said, "As long as I remain the president of CAF, the date scheduled for Africa's biggest soccer fiesta will remain unchanged."

Fighting words, indeed.

So today in Accra, Ghana, 24 hours before the opening match, Blatter made his case for the Cup being moved.

"Mr Hayatou wants the African players to be in their top psychological, technical and physical form at World Cups and above all at the 2010 World Cup (in South Africa).

"In 2010, the best African players based abroad are going to want to be at their best at the African Nations Cup.

"Then they're going to return to their clubs to fight for the Champions League, UEFA Cup, for a title or against relegation.

"Therefore they will perhaps be tired for the World Cup. To avoid that we should hold the African Nations Cup on alternate years to give Africa the best chance at the World Cup."

Makes some sense, no?

Commenting on the exodus of talent from the continent Blatter warned that for many players, the promise of 'making it' in Europe was often not all it seemed.

"We have to create professional leagues in Africa so that African players can make a living here," he said.

"I'm not talking about the Drogbas or Eto'os, but about the hundreds and the thousands of players attracted by false promises and by money promised by agents.

"They turn up somewhere, and then disappear. At the end of 2010 we should have answers to this problem so as to develop further African football's national identity.

"The federations and clubs have to set up a type of early alarm system because this is a new form of slavery."

He added it was essential that the 2010 World Cup left a lasting legacy for the continent.

"This is the key question. The 2010 World Cup is not just for South Africa but also for all of Africa."

Interesting. I agree wholeheartedly about creating African leagues.

What do you think?

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