Sun, Oct 19, 2003 - Page 22 News List

FA's Sepp Blatter emphasizes need for punishment

AP , DOHA, QATAR

The head of world soccer's governing body did not mention England international Rio Ferdinand by name, but Sepp Blatter's message was clear: Players must be disciplined for failing to submit to drug tests.

"We have an obligation by the statutes to control the game, and specially to make sure that practices that will put this game to disrepute, we will stop them," Blatter told reporters.

Blatter was lamenting the case of an English player who was punished for missing a random doping test, and his teammates who threatened to boycott the next game if the player was not allowed to play.

The Manchester United defender spent more than three hours in a Football Association hearing last Monday to explain why he missed the test. After missing the test, Ferdinand said he tried to rectify the situation by offering to be tested. The result of that test was negative.

Under World Anti-Doping Agency guidelines, Ferdinand could be banned for two years, but WADA rules are not binding on FIFA. The England team sent a letter of protest to the English FA about the affair.

"These gentlemen, if they do that, and if we accept it, then I don't know where we go with football," Blatter said. "I'm sure the FA in London will take an adequate decision in this case."

Blatter said he would appeal to the FIFA Extraordinary Congress, which is meeting in Doha on Sunday and Monday to ensure discipline and respect are maintained among all "members of our family." He said by family he meant "players, coaches, referees and spectators."

He said that he will honor the English FA on Feb. 28, 2004, when FIFA turns 100. The English FA was founded in 1863.

"The FA deserves this respect," said Blatter, adding that a special international association meeting will take place in London with all the members of the executive committee.

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