The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Blatter blasts ‘friendly farce’

London: England’s decision to field a different team in each half of their friendly against Australia last month was “a farce” that will not be allowed to happen again, Fifa president Sepp Blatter has said.

England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson took the step under pressure from club managers concerned about tired players and it backfired as England suffered an embarrassing 1-3 defeat at Upton Park on February 12.

“It will not be possible in future to play a friendly with one team for 45 minutes and one team for the other 45 minutes,” Blatter said.

“It is not correct for the opponent. It is definitely not correct for the public. The (English) FA should not organise such a match and we will intervene here.

“What we have to do is to find a solution where the interests of the national team are respecting the interests of the clubs, but also the clubs shall respect the interest and aspirations of national teams.”

In competitive international fixtures, such as European championship or World Cup qualifiers, teams are only permitted to make three substitutions each per match. But in friendly games, the two coaches are allowed to agree on any number of changes.

Blatter’s comments follow a series of clashes between Eriksson and the managers of England’s leading clubs over player availability for friendlies.

The English FA are planning to hold a series of meetings with clubs to try to resolve the issue.

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