Blatter backs Socceroos to lift Asia - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Blatter backs Socceroos to lift Asia

By David Beniuk 03/07/2006 08:47:28 PM Comments (0)

FIFA president Sepp Blatter believes Australian soccer's move into Asia could spur the region out of its World Cup slump.

Australia qualified for the finals from its old Oceania Confederation but played in Germany as a member of the more competitive Asian Confederation.

The Socceroos were the only Asian side to move beyond the first round of the finals, with Iran, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Australia's group F rival and Asian champion Japan all eliminated.

Blatter said the performance of the Asian nations was a concern.

"The other four Asian teams all kicked out in the first round, it is a big, big difference," Blatter told SBS television.

"Four years ago one (South Korea) was a semi-finalist and the other one (Japan) went into the second round so I think there is something to look at.

"Perhaps the arrival of the Socceroos, of the Australian football, they will bring some new incentive to Asian football."

Blatter said the Socceroos were unlucky to lose against Italy and backed them to qualify again for the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.

"They were up to go into extra time, mama mia, how can you lose this (in the) last minute because to play then 11 players against 10 thirty minutes longer, I think this would have been a chance.

"I can tell you Australia will be back also for the next World Cup."

The referees in Germany are still a topic close to Australian soccer fans' broken hearts, and Blatter vowed only "professional" whistle-blowers would be given jobs in 2010.

"We must have professional referees and in the next World Cup there will be only professional referees," he said.

Blatter criticised the support group of "psychologists, therapists, inspectors, assessors and instructors" provided to the tournament's referees, which he said was higher in number than the match officials themselves.

"I think we did a little bit too much .... put too much pressure on them" he said.

He said Australian hopes of hosting the World Cup finals would depend on whether he can win a battle for the event to be rotated through the confederations.

European nations argue the finals should return to that continent every three tournaments, with South Africa and the Americas to be hosts in 2010 and 2014.

"It would be a logical turn that the competition goes back to Asia and Oceania (after that)," Blatter said.

"If we have to maintain the rotation system then I would say Australia, yes, because they have the ability to organise the World Cup, I'm sure that it would be a very good organiser of the FIFA World Cup.

"Where they could come in as a bidder together with the Asian Football Confederation would be for 2018 but then definitely for 2022.

"The next step will be made in 2008 depending on the presidency of FIFA.

"If I'm still in the chair ... then I will try to make sure that the rotation system goes on because it is a democratic system and a system in solidarity."

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