Fifa ruling could hurt Eriksson plans

Click to follow
The Independent Football

The Football Association faces a test of its commitment to protecting England's players from burn-out after being given an exemption from a Fifa ban on domestic matches in the four weeks before World Cup 2006.

The Football Association faces a test of its commitment to protecting England's players from burn-out after being given an exemption from a Fifa ban on domestic matches in the four weeks before World Cup 2006.

Fifa ruled yesterday that the FA Cup final can be played as the opening game of the new Wembley Stadium on 20 May that year, less than three weeks before the start of the tournament in Germany.

The FA said no date has yet been fixed for the final but the fact they requested the exemption from Fifa indicates that date is a strong possibility, which would anger Sven Goran Eriksson. The England head coach failed to secure a winter break and three months ago asked the Fifa president Sepp Blatter for a minimum four-week break before the start of World Cup 2006.

If the FA Cup final goes ahead on 20 May that could involve many of Eriksson's senior players and would also mean the Premiership could play up until 14 May instead of 7 May.

Blatter also announced an exemption for the Champions' League final, which has been brought forward a week to 17 May. He said following the Fifa executive committee meeting in Zurich: "We have taken a historical and courageous decision. We saw player burn-out in 2002 and also at Euro 2004."

"All the European leagues will be stopping their competitions on 14 May at the latest to enable international players to have a week's holiday and then be available for two-and-a-half weeks before the tournament for preparation." Head of media at the FA, Adrian Bevington, said the Wembley date was still under review.

Fifa's disciplinary committee will decide today on any punishment for the Spanish federation over the racist abuse by fans towards England players during last month's friendly in Madrid.

Blatter also threatened disciplinary action against the 15 leagues - including the Premiership and Scottish Premier League - who are planning to form an association of European leagues based in Brussels to act as a focus for their interests. "This is outside the statutes of Fifa and we shall intervene through the national associations to stop such a procedure," said Blatter.

Comments