Blatter denies Fifa is responsible for glut of pre-season friendlies

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The Independent Online

Clubs angry at the timing of international friendly matches should aim their frustrations at the national associations who arrange them and not Fifa, claimed Sepp Blatter yesterday.

More than 50 international friendly matches took place this week, an official Fifa match day, just when many European league seasons are starting – the Premier League opens on Saturday.

"There are two dates in the year for friendly matches but it means you do not have to use these dates," said Blatter. "If you want to play a friendly match then bring your second or third team, nobody tells you to promote the best players. Don't make a lot of noise about that [the timing] by saying that Fifa is silly... it is not Fifa."

Barcelona led the complaints of this week's international matches with their sporting director complaining after seven of his team's players were named for a friendly in Mexico three days before the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup against Seville. Elsewhere in Europe, preparations were disrupted in the Netherlands and France, where their championships began last weekend.

Blatter said that the current Fifa calendar was compiled by Michel Platini eight years ago, before he became Uefa president. "He was a player and he was a coach and now he is president of the confederation," Blatter said, suggesting Platini was able to understand the concerns of all parties.

Blatter said that the Fifa match-day calendar was frequently discussed for ways of improvement but that understanding and solidarity was required by national associations and clubs. He also revealed yesterday that the issue of goalline technology is on the agenda for the International Football Association Board's October meeting.

Blatter said that IFAB, the body responsible for determining the rules of the sport, had agreed in their meeting last month to put the issue on their agenda for their official gathering in Wales. "At this meeting [in October], we will bring the point of goalline technology," Blatter said. "It is now on the this agenda."

The debate on the of the use of technology was raised again when Frank Lampard was denied a goal in their World Cup second-round defeat to Germany in June, despite television replays showing the ball clearly crossing the goalline.

Football remains one of the few major sports to resist the use of technology, with tennis, cricket, rugby, NBA basketball and American football all using applied science successfully. Blatter said that he was in favour of using technology to rule on such contentious decisions providing it was reliable.

"My personal opinion on goal technology has never changed, I have said if we have an accurate and simple system then we will implement but so far we have not had a simple, nor an accurate system."

IFAB decided last month to expand their use of two additional referees officiating matches with the method also being employed in the Champions League and the Uefa Super Cup this season after it debuted in the Europa League last year.

In another club v country issue, Bayern Munich's chairman wants the Netherlands federation to pay winger Arjen Robben's wages after he returned from the World Cup with an injury and was ruled out for two months. Robben reported to Bayern's pre-season training camp with a torn left hamstring, the same injury he picked up before the World Cup. Bayern accused the Dutch team's coach and doctor of failing to protect Robben and allowing him to play despite the injury.

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