FIFA president Sepp Blatter stopped short of saying the World Cup in Brazil was the best ever staged, but he gave it 9.25 out of 10 on Monday, describing it as a “very, very special” tournament highlighted by attacking football.
Speaking the day after the month-long extravaganza ended with Germany crowned as champions after beating Argentina in the final, Blatter said he was delighted with the tournament.
“Brazil has improved on four years ago in South Africa,” he said. Four years ago he gave South Africa nine marks out of 10.
Smiling broadly, Blatter told reporters at his post-tournament news briefing; “We consulted all our computers and our Facebooks last night and decided on 9.25 out of 10, so Brazil is an improvement on South Africa.
“But I always say that perfection does not exist in football, or in life.
“This was my 10th World Cup and my fifth as president and what makes this so very, very special was the quality of the football and the intensity of the games.”
The final statistics tend to support the widespread belief that this tournament, which far outweighed expectations, is a contender for the best ever.
The final goals tally of 171 equalled the record set in France in 1998, there was a 40 per cent reduction in injuries and a vast improvement in discipline.
There were 177 yellow cards and 10 red cards compared to 245 yellows in South Africa and 17 reds. The all-time low came in Germany with 307 yellows and 28 dismissals.
But in real terms there was more games with a higher standard of play than in previous finals, with huge, knowledgeable crowds and vast hordes in fan fests.
“We started with very good attacking football which was new,” Blatter said.
“In the first phase, generally the teams don’t want to lose, but this time .. boom boom ... from the start it was aggressive attacking football from the first game, and then when Spain, the defending champions, lost 5-1 to Holland, I knew this was going to be a very special World Cup.
“There was not one single match that did not have this intensity even if not all the games were of the highest level.”
He also said that FIFA could do more in its fight against racism and discrimination.
“We have to fight it and I am not at all happy with the way we have fought against racism here,” he said. “We have to do more.”
Turning to Russia which will host the World Cup in 2018, Blatter said that FIFA will discuss the possibility of reducing the number of stadiums to be used there in four years time.
Two days after Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko gave media detailed background about Russia’s plans for their World Cup which involves 12 stadiums in 11 cities, Blatter implied that they could be re-examined.
“It’s a footballing country but we will have meetings there in September to see if 12 is the right number and even if they could be reduced to 10.”
His comments came as a complete surprise to Alexei Sorokin, the chief executive officer of the Russian Organizing Committee who told reporters: “This is the first I have heard about it, we know nothing about this.”
Blatter said he was troubled that it cost in the region of $11 billion to stage the event in Brazil.
“It’s obvious the World Cup has taken such a dimension that the organization is a hard work for the organizing country and also for the FIFA,” he said.
“FIFA is looking at 2018 now and we are in discussions on what is the ideal number for the organization and to keep it in such a manner that it’s feasible, reasonable and controllable.
“We are not going to be in a situation as is the case of one, two or even three stadiums in South Africa where it is a problem of what you do with these stadiums,” Blatter said.
Mutko told reporters on Saturday that the country had allocated $20 billion - $9 billion more than Brazil - to staging the tournament.
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