CBC Sports Online's soccer expert, John Molinaro, takes you inside the world of soccer and offers his insights about the action on the pitch and in the front office.
Another bad idea from Blatter
Wednesday, December 6, 2006 | 10:57 AM ET
A German journalist once famously said of Sepp Blatter that the FIFA president, "has 50 new ideas every day and 51 of them are bad."
We can now add No. 52 to the list.
In an article published in Germany's Kicker magazine this week, Blatter proclaimed that European soccer leagues should play through the summer months – traditionally, the soccer season for the top leagues in Europe runs from September to May.
Blatter wants every European league to run simultaneously from February to November. By doing so, argues Blatter, it would give clubs a longer winter break that could be used for national team games.
"I've just proposed to the clubs: play through the summer, make the season like the calendar year," said Blatter. "This would leave enough time for players to recover and there could be blocks of three weeks of [international] qualifying games in winter."
Blatter's attempt to unify the league schedules across Europe might resolve the age-old problem of club vs. country (clubs are none too happy about releasing their top stars for national team duty during the season) but it would cause more problems than it would solve.
Does Blatter honestly expect teams in Italy, Spain, Greece and Turkey to play in the sweltering months of July and August, when temperatures in those countries can reach as high as 40 C?
Has he considered the inevitable backlash from players who would be asked to sacrifice their summer holidays?
And what about the small matter of the World Cup and the European Championship, traditionally contested in June? Do we just break from tradition and move them to December?
Blatter claimed to have the support of "big European clubs" but he didn't actually name one.
It's hard to imagine teams in the English Premiership would be all that supportive of Blatter's plan – the highlight of the English league schedule is late December when clubs play three of four games during the last two weeks of the month.
The Christmas slew of games is a major cash cow for the clubs and league that draws major media attention. Does Blatter think Premiership clubs are just willing to kiss that goodbye?
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About the Author
John F. Molinaro is a reporter for CBC Sport Online whose chief love is international soccer. John served as senior editor of Sports Online's Euro 2004 website, which helped him win a CBC.ca Award of Excellence, and was the driving force behind our coverage of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He holds an honours BA in sociology from York University and a print journalism diploma from Sheridan College, and is also the author of The Top 100 Pro Wrestlers of All Time (Stewart House, 2002).
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