The Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, last night delivered a potentially critical blow to the Premier League’s plans for playing matches overseas, dismissing the proposals as “an abuse of association football” that could cost England any chance of hosting the 2018 World Cup.
Blatter said the proposal would be opposed by Fifa’s executive committee when it meets next month. The Fifa president said he would also instruct national associations to turn down any approach from the Premier League to host matches.
“This is definitely abuse of association football,” Blatter said. “The Premier League says it is the best league in the world but then it should act with more responsibility.
“To try and have additional exposure and revenue by expanding the league around the world, I think this is not acceptable. It will not be acceptable to the Fifa executive committee, I am sure. We have already heard from two presidents of confederations [Uefa’s Michel Platini and Asia’s Mohamed bin Hammam] and, if I went through the different press coverage, I have not seen a lot of support.”
Blatter said any attempt to press ahead with the plan in defiance of Fifa would jeopardise England’s chances of hosting the 2018 World Cup.
“If you go against the authority of Fifa and the executive committee, then you cannot expect them to be in your favour later on,” he said.
“England will not be the only World Cup bid. So, if Mr Scudamore says that [it will help 2018], let him say it. I will not deny chances to any of the candidates for 2018 but I cannot imagine that when you go against the deciding body for the decision on the World Cup that you will enhance your chances. It will not be diplomatic.”
The Football Association began communications with the Premier League and Fifa over the proposals yesterday, with its chief executive, Brian Barwick, writing to Scudamore to request a meeting ahead of the FA’s board meeting next Thursday. Fifa’s general secretary Jérôme Valcke was also reportedly contacted.
“So far as I know from the FA in London, we have not received any official message. We have not been contacted before by the league to ask us what we think of this idea. You speak about rude but I think it is irresponsible,” Blatter said.
Blatter also suggested that Rupert Murdoch, head of Sky, the company that screens Premier League matches in England and reportedly a supporter of the plan, should think twice before backing the venture.
“The wedding between TV and football has been profitable to football but there must be somewhere a limit,” said Blatter. “If only Fox and Sky and a Murdoch organisation [is showing games], then Mr Murdoch should feel he is stripping the shirt a little bit too much. If he [Murdoch] is involved, then partnership means you should respect the other side.”
“We look forward to the opportunity to meet with Fifa to discuss this matter,” said a Premier League spokesman. “This was always the starting point in relation to sanction, and as such we will be making no further comment until after that time.”