Last updated : 30 September 2004 By editor

The Daily ‘Hate’ Mail reports:

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has warned against England's elite clubs being allowed to take control of the Football Association. The struggle between the professional and amateur game has reached a new level with the FA in the throes of a major shake-up in the organisation, but Blatter fears the top clubs will try to use the forthcoming changes to seize more power.

‘Writing in his column in a national newspaper, Blatter says: "For wealthy clubs to try to emasculate the international game by seizing control of a national football association - as I read that some fear they are trying to do in England - is unacceptable.

‘"It is an attempt to undermine the very foundation of what any such association is all about: in the case of England, this means looking after the interests of about 45,000 clubs (not just the biggest four or five), so that youngsters of all backgrounds and ages can enjoy their game, and so that a few can rise to fame and fortune whether they hail from millionaires' row or the most obscure housing estate.

‘"Football must remain entertainment for all. It must not become the plaything of a greedy few who believe that their (fleeting) financial strength gives them the legitimacy to call the shots, abandon the grass roots and destroy the very foundation of the national game."

‘Blatter adds: "The process of globalisation, that affects all our lives, is exerting a malign influence on football and pushing the world's favourite sport in an unsavoury direction. What is more, for once, Europe appears to be setting the pace.

‘"The conflict between national teams and a handful of apparently omnipotent clubs is set to intensify in the near future. When it does, spectators, non-Europeans and football itself will all lose out.

‘"If a London club has only a couple of English players in its first-team squad, with the rest coming from half a dozen different countries, I'm sure I would not be the only one who had a problem associating that club with its local area," he says.

‘"What about the national team that, as a result, is deprived of players - a national team that, in England's case, hasn't won a major international competition in decades?

‘"A few clubs feel strongly that their future - and that of a select few others - is a European Professional League, governed by themselves, but above all governed by money.

‘"The result would be a situation in which Europe adopted the American concept of the National Football League or the National Basketball Association in which money rules and social conscience is of limited relevance."’