Fifa’s Blatter wants to end continental rotation system

By Rob Harris, AP

SHEFFIELD, England — FIFA President Sepp Blatter wants to end the continental rotation system for hosting the World Cup.

Blatter said Wednesday that he will urge the FIFA executive committee to adopt his proposal next week, paving the way for open bidding for the 2018 competition.

“My thoughts are that we shall open the market and make the World Cup available for everybody apart from the last confederation which has just organized it, which means South America cannot bid for 2018,” Blatter said.

South Africa hosts the 2010 edition — the first African nation to do so — and Brazil is expected to host the 2014 tournament.

Since Germany hosted the 2006 World Cup, Blatter had previously indicated that the 2018 championship should go to Asia.

Blatter outlined his plans at an event marking the 150th anniversary of Sheffield FC, the world’s oldest soccer club, after meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is backing an England bid for 2018.

“I would welcome a candidature (from England), but first we have to establish the procedure of the 2018 World Cup,” Blatter said, referring to the meeting, which is expected for next Tuesday or Wednesday. “England is the motherland of football and I would welcome the candidate of the FA.

“The last time (England) had the World Cup was 1966 and by 2018 that will be practically three generations.”

Blatter insisted that England will not be the only candidate.

“We have already had talks with China’s football and political authorities and they are keen. Australia are always in the running and there are others — USA, Mexico and perhaps Canada,” Blatter said. “In Europe there is Russia and I will have talks with Holland and Belgium next month to discuss about whether a combined candidature is valid or not.”

Blatter also warned about the growing influence of foreign owners on the game.

Eight of the 20 Premier League clubs are currently owned by foreign investors — notably Russian oil tycoon Roman Abramovich at Chelsea.

“One of the big challenges is definitely the big money in football,” Blatter said. “We should keep the game open for everybody and not let an elite of clubs with a lot money, because their investors are coming from all round the world, to buy football clubs.”

He said wealthy foreign owners can be dangerous if they use their wealth to accumulate the top talent.

“It is not good if there are five or six clubs and they have the best players of the world and they exchange these players amongst them and they are always the leaders,” Blatter said. “This is not solidarity and here we have to find the mechanism, how can we intervene.”

Blatter added that “rich people” are denying players the chance to play regular first-team soccer.