It's Sepp Blatter's World

FIFA's Executive Board has ruled that WC qualifiers cannot be played at extreme altitudes unless the visiting team is able to spend a couple weeks there getting used to the altitude.


I for one think we should listen to him; if anyone knows about playing soccer high, it's Diego.

Bolivian President EVO MORALES IS FURIOUS, claiming that FIFA Supremo Sepp Blatter "lied" to him about the altitude ruling. Say it ain't so, Sepp.

Seriously, it's not a simple issue. La Paz is, after all, a whopping, lung busting 11,942 feet above sea level, more than twice the elevation of Denver, and well over 4,000 feet higher than even Mexico City, where athletes have been gasping for air for decades.

But home field is the Golden Fleece for pretty much everybody, and Bolivia isn't going to give it up without a fight. It's a like asking the FMF to give up holding qualifiers in Estadio Azteca.

But there has to be a limit, guys; not much of a contest if the visitors keep passing out cold.

UEFA President Michael Platini says that ENGLISH FANS SHOULD RESIST FOREIGN OWNERSHIP, particularly by Americans, of British football clubs.

He doesn't provide his reasoning for being particularly offended by money from the US, but this issue is just one of many where he finds himself increasingly at odds with Blatter, such as encouraging the use of artificial turf (Platini says there's "plenty of water" in Europe and the game was designed to be played on grass) and the "6 + 5 Rule" which Blatter seems determined to pursue over the objections of Europe's major clubs.

Meanwhile, in Spain, nobody is budging an inch from their position on the timing of the RFEF elections. Spanish PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero INSISTS THAT SPAIN CANNOT BE KEPT OUT OF EURO 2008, saying that they "won the right to be there and I refuse to contemplate any other scenario".

On Friday, the FIFA executive board decided otherwise, insisting that if the Spanish government doesn't back down that Northern Ireland will indeed be taking their place in the tournament.

Zapatero has painted himself into a corner here and he is the one who's going to have to find a way out, because Blatter is holding all the cards. If Sepp refuses to put Spain on the pitch, there's not a thing Zapatero can do about it.

And this is an issue that Blatter cannot compromise on. FIFA lives and dies by the principle that they are above local government interference, and while they likely don't care all that much if the RFEF never holds elections, this rule keeps local prosecutors out of FIFA's affairs and out of FIFA's books.

And if Zapatero thinks for one minute that Blatter is going to surrender on THAT point, then Spain elected an idiot.