By Ray Fleming

WE thought it was all over but it grows more interesting by the day - the off-pitch developments at the World Cup, that is. Sepp Blatter, the President of FIFA, who I criticised yesterday for his “abject inaction” on penalty area technology, has suddenly sprung into life -apologising to England for poor refereeing over Frank Lampard's disallowed goal and to Mexico for Teves' blatantly off-side goal for Argentina. “It would be a nonsense not to reopen the file of technology” said Blatter but, ominously perhaps, added that FIFA would also be looking at “a new drive to improve high-level refereeing”. He might also have added that it had been nonsesne to close the file last March when he refused to countenance technology aids.

But it was Blatter's comments on political interference with football in France that were really interesting. He criticised Nicolas Sarkozy and his ministers for complaining about the French side's performance in South Africa and for saying that the resignation of the French Football Federation was “inevitable”. Said Blatter, bravely, “The French Federation can rely on FIFA even if political inteference is at Presidential level.” President Sarkozy is impulsive. After the South African debacle he asked Thierry Henri to talks about what had gone wrong and last year he appointed the head-butter Zinedine Zidane to lead the French bid for staging Euro 2016 - which, by the way, was successful!


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