Blatter defends FIFA position on friendly dates

SINGAPORE - Clubs angry at the timing of international friendly matches should aim their frustrations at the national associations who arrange them and not FIFA, the organisation's president Sepp Blatter said on Wednesday.

More than 50 international friendly matches will take place across the world on Wednesday, an official FIFA match day, just when many European league seasons are starting and their Asia counterparts resume after the World Cup.

"There are two dates in the year for friendly matches but it means you do not have to use these dates," Blatter told reporters in Singapore.

"If you want to play a friendly match then bring your second or third team, nobody tells you to promote the best players.

"Don't make a lot of noise about that (the timing) by saying that FIFA is silly... it is not FIFA."

Spanish champions Barcelona led the complaints of this week's international matches with their sporting director complaining after seven of his team's players were named for a friendly in Mexico three days before the first leg of the Super Cup.

Elsewhere in Europe, preparations were disrupted in England, where the Premier League starts on Saturday, and in Netherlands and France, where their championships began last weekend.

Blatter, who is in Singapore to open the men's and women's soccer tournaments for the inaugural Youth Olympic Games, said that the current FIFA calendar was compiled by Michel Platini eight years ago, before he became UEFA president.

"He was a player and he was a coach and now he is president of the confederation," Blatter said, suggesting Platini was able to understand the concerns of all parties.

Blatter, 74, said that the FIFA match day calendar was frequently discussed for ways of improvement but that understanding and solidarity was required by national associations and clubs.

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