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Angry Blatter hits out at clubs

Dubai: Fifa president Sepp Blatter has denounced those clubs who have refused to release players for the World Under-20 championship, saying on Saturday that they were devaluing the development of the sport worldwide.

Boca Juniors protested against Argentina’s inclusion of their exciting 19-year-old playmaker Carlos Tevez in the national squad for the 24-nation, three-week tournament that began on November 27 in the United Arab Emirates.

Tevez, the inspiration when Boca won the Libertadores Cup for the third time in four years earlier this season, even took legal action against the Argentina Football Association’s (AFA) decision to force him to play for his country.

Tevez ultimately withdrew the legal action, but by then the other 19 players in the squad had already flown out.

South American champions Boca are due to meet Champions League winners AC Milan in the World Club Cup in Tokyo on December 14 to decide the unofficial world champions.

“If we start resorting to the courts for such a simple case, we may as well say goodbye to football,” said Blatter, who was due to attend England’s opening game against Japan on Saturday.

English Premier League club Leeds United on Tuesday withdrew their striker James Milner from the England squad just four days before they faced Japan. England lost the match 0-1.

Blatter also repeated his call for less televised football and fewer matches in general. “The consequence of too much football is that audiences will go down,” said Blatter. “You cannot screen matches every day, otherwise it is not digestible. Three times in eight days, which is sometimes what we have, is simply too much.”

Blatter then reignited the furore over Manchester United and England centre half Rio Ferdinand’s missed drugs test at the club’s training ground in September.

He criticised the England players who considered going on strike before their final Euro 2004 group qualifying match against Turkey in Istanbul, saying such menacing threats brought the game into disrepute.

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