FIFA chief Sepp Blatter has undergonea u-turn by sugggesting that clubs should be paid for releasing players.

“My opinion is that clubs deserve a minimum of respect for releasing players and they should be paid from the allocation,” he told a press conference on Tuesday.

The announcement contradicts previous statements made by Blatter, who has always supported the pre-eminence of the national association over individual clubs.

However, with the FIFA president facing court action by clubs angry at receiving no compensation for players injured in international matches, he appears to have softened his stance.

He noted that FIFA will allocate seven million Swiss francs to each of the 32 finalists in the 2006 World Cup, with the winners picking up 24 million.

“National associations should not only pay their players but think about the clubs,” he said.

Blatter said the FIFA executive committee would discuss the subject on March 17-18.

Asked if, for example, the French federation would have to pay Chelsea for players released for the World Cup, he replied: “Yes if the principle is establised.”

But he dismissed suggestions that the poorer African associations should compensate the wealthier clubs.

“You can’t ask Ivory Coast to pay Chelsea for (Didier) Drogba,” Blatter added. “That would be turning the world on its head, the rich would get richer and the poor poorer. Each case would to be axamined individually.”

French champions Lyon and Belgian side Charleroi, backed by the influential G14 group, have already initiated court proceedings against FIFA for being forced to release players who were subsequently injured in international friendly matches.

The G14 group wants FIFA to provide insurance and compensation to clubs for players who are injured while playing for their countries.

FIFA are accused of being in breach of European Union law by abusing their dominant market position. Moreover, the clubs are seeking a share of FIFA’s revenues from the World Cup.

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