ABU DHABI // Fifa president Sepp Blatter will never introduce the use of video technology during his reign, despite controversial incidents like Thierry Henry's infamous handball for France which ended Ireland's World Cup hopes. Blatter, speaking yesterday after a Club World Cup organisers' committee meeting in Abu Dhabi, said that although he was "open to goal-line technology", incorporating video replays to aid referees' decision-making would not only ruin the spontaneity and passion that is inherent in football, but would also discourage supporters from attending matches.
"I am not a prophet, so I don't know what will happen after Blatter," said the Swiss. "But please do not insist on technology. The day you stop a match and the referee takes the two captains to a monitor to see if something is inside, or outside the penalty box is the day the spectators will say no, we are not coming to the game. "There will be no more discussion, if there's no more discussion, then there is no more hope. With no more hope, there's no more life, voila.
"That's football, let it live and let it play the fantastic social and cultural role it has in peoples' emotions and passions. Even if there are errors, let them be, everyone makes errors." Blatter's insistence that goal-line technology will be the only modern introduction to world football's rules means that high-profile incidents where referees have made mistakes, such as during France's 2-1 World Cup play-off against Ireland last month, will continue in the sport.
The Fifa president, whose term ends in 2011, revealed yesterday that he would be glad to accept a new mandate to finish off his presidential "mission". He also remained unrepentant over his plan to ensure football does not mirror other sports' utilisation of widely accessible technologies. "We should not stop the game and have monitors to see if a decision is right or wrong," said Blatter. "We are open to goal-line technology and as soon as it is accurate - and so far it is not - we will look at it. We tested goal-line technology two years ago in the Club World Cup, but the results were not conclusive."
Having savoured every moment of the UAE's inaugural Club World Cup, Blatter praised the tournament and said the low crowds which blighted the competition's earlier matches were not unusual. "I'm sure had Al Ahli qualified for the next round, and then had a third game, the spectators would have increased." Sport's most powerful man also said the UAE's capacity to organise such a prestigious tournament should be noted by other regional nations wanting to stage future Fifa competitions - highlighting Qatar's bid for the 2022 World Cup.
"The organisational skill we have seen during this Club World Cup has been very high and if it can have an influence on other countries in the region, it will be positive," said Blatter, adding that Qatar's bid could yet herald the game's first winter World Cup. "The World Cup, so far, has always been played in the middle of the year, that is the international calendar. Let us develop that situation and we will come back to it."