Blatter backs billionaire club owners in Platini row

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Brussles, Oct 5: FIFA president Sepp Blatter backed foreign owners such as those at Manchester United and Liverpool, describing them today as ''good for the game'' and ruled out any interference by soccer's world governing body.

Blatter's comments were in stark contrast to the views expressed last month by UEFA president Michel Platini who described such owners as ''a serious threat'' to European soccer.

''No I think they (foreign owners) are good for the game as long as the money comes from the right sources,'' Blatter told a group of reporters on a conference call.

Last month Platini wrote to all 27 European Union leaders -- including Britain's Gordon Brown, Germany's Angela Merkel and France's Nicolas Sarkozy -- asking them to protect the sport from ''the malign and ever-present influence of money''.

''This investment of money is what allows football to become so exciting and funds the attraction,'' Blatter said.

Platini has accused Liverpool and United's US billionaire backers as only being interested in their investments, unlike Chelsea's Russian owner Roman Abramovich and AC Milan's Silvio Berlusconi whom he believes love the game, not just the money.

''The English Premier League is one of the most attractive, best promoted leagues in the world, if not the most attractive and economically powerful league in the world, so this will of course attract lost of powerful investors,'' Blatter said.

''As long as the money is correctly handled, then we do not have anything bad to say about these owners. Also we do not see a need for the EU to interfere in this.''

Tevez Affair Club ownership rules and third-party ownership of transfer rights are due to be discussed by FIFA's new Strategic Committee next week, which will be chaired by Platini.

International discrepancies over third-party ownership rules were highlighted by the row in England over the controversial status of former West Ham United striker Carlos Tevez.

West Ham, who have since sold Tevez to Premier League rivals Manchester United, were fined 11.19 million dollar in April after breaching league rules outlawing third-party deals.

FIFA has not yet taken an official stance on third-party ownership and said it was unable to mediate in the Tevez affair when the issue later threatened to derail his move to United.

''We have strict rules that say an owner should not own more than one club in a league, so a player should not have more than one owner,'' Blatter said.

''Third party ownership rules are a concern and we have been studying this area and we will make a report next week to Mr Platini's committee.'' 

Reuters 
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