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Blatter warns Spain over political interference

Latest update : 2008-02-18

FIFA's president, Sepp Blatter, has warned the Spanish government to halt involvement in football federation elections or face an international ban.

MADRID  - Spain will be barred from competing in international competitions if their government continues to pressure the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to hold an early election, FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said.

"If the Spanish government, through their Sports Council (CSD), continue to interfere in footballing affairs they will have to recognise that their clubs and national team will be excluded from international tournaments," Blatter was quoted as saying in Spanish media on Monday.

"It would be tough, but it would only take six hours to call a FIFA emergency committee meeting to hear and decide upon
Spain's exclusion," he said. ""Spain would not be able to play at Euro 2008, and their clubs wouldn't continue in the Champions League or UEFA Cup."

Blatter's backing for RFEF president Angel Maria Villar comes after the CSD called for all sporting federations not
involved in the Olympic Games to hold elections before Beijing 2008, which takes place in August.

Government intervention in football affairs "is not a new problem for FIFA," he added. "It first occurred in Portugal
where a letter from us was sufficient to change the law governing sport. In Greece, we had to suspend their federation indefinitely and everything was sorted out in 48 hours."

"We don't have a crisis situation at present," said Blatter. "The RFEF have called a general assembly to ratify FIFA's new electoral code and to call an election at the end of the year. We have a small fire but we don't need the firefighters yet."

"FIFA is like the United Nations but has more members and is more powerful," he said.

Date created : 2008-02-18