Football: Fifa's summer game

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MICHEL PLATINI, who is masterminding the plans of world football's governing body, Fifa, to modernise the game, has supported the idea of a "summer season" from February to December in order to improve the chances of a biennial World Cup.

"To achieve this goal we must reform the calendar to restore the credibility of national teams," Platini said in L'Equipe, the French sports newspaper, yesterday. He suggested the solution could be "a summer season, which would start in February and would finish early in December."

"It will not be easy because of the concentration of the dates of European cups, the dropping of the Confederations Cup and of the Intercontinental Cup to be replaced by a club World Cup, but it will help players get a real one-month break in the winter," Platini said.

The new calendar could start in 2005 to allow a World Cup to be held in 2006. Platini has also discussed, with Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, the idea of a Centenary Cup in 2004 to be played between the seven World Cup winners - Uruguay, Italy, Germany, Brazil, England, Argentina and France. Fifa will celebrate its centenary in 2004.

Radomir Antic will return as the coach of Atletico Madrid on a 15-month contract, according to the club president, Jesus Gil. Antic, who guided Atletico to a Spanish League and Cup double in the 1995-96 season, but left the club two years later.

Sven-Goran Eriksson has extended his contract as coach of Lazio, Italy's Serie A leaders, until June 2002, in a deal worth at least twice his current salary. "The deal has been reached, even if I haven't signed anything yet. I'll be Lazio's coach until June 2002," Eriksson said yesterday.

"There's no point saying I'm happy. I fought to get the job two seasons ago and I've never hidden my desire to stay." Eriksson reached the deal with the Lazio owner, Sergio Cragnotti, in Rome on Monday night. His salary will be almost 12b Italian lire (pounds 4m) for three years. The 51-year-old Swede has guided Lazio to the top of the Italian League for the first time in 25 years and into the semi-final of the Cup Winners' Cup this season.

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