Blatter warns Sarkozy not to interfere - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Blatter warns Sarkozy not to interfere

By Graham Dunbar 29/06/2010 08:47:16 PM Comments (0)

FIFA president Sepp Blatter warned French leader Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday that the country's national team risked suspension from global football if he meddled in the running of the federation.

Blatter said he was sending a "clear and clean message" to the French government and President Sarkozy, who has said he would personally lead investigations into Les Bleus' dismal showing at the World Cup.

The French football federation "can really rely on FIFA in case of political interference - even if it is at the presidential level", Blatter said.

"France made an 'affaire d'etat' (affair of state) of football, but football remains in the hands of the federation," he said.

FIFA statutes demand that federations manage their affairs independently or face suspension from international football matches and business.

Teams, referees and football officials can be barred from participating even if the federation were the innocent victim of government meddling.

However, Sarkozy intervened after the team's performance on and off the field in South Africa heaped embarrassment on the nation.

The team, which won the 1998 World Cup and were runner-up four years ago, failed to win a game and players went on strike at training after forward Nicolas Anelka was sent home for insulting coach Raymond Domenech.

A parliamentary panel is scheduled later on Tuesday to interview sports minister Roselyne Bachelot, who spoke to the team during the debacle.

Bachelot earlier said it was "inevitable" that French football federation Jean-Pierre Escalettes would resign - an apparent contravention of FIFA's rules.

Escalettes duly announced his plan to quit and will be interviewed on Wednesday with the outgoing Domenech in hearings at the National Assembly.

Blatter told reporters at a briefing that he regretted Escalettes' resignation, and warned that France's status in world football would not prevent FIFA stepping in.

"Definitely, I can tell you that political interference will be dealt with by FIFA notwithstanding what kind of interference and what is the size of the country," Blatter said.

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