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Van Basten hits out at FIFA's World Cup deadline

Written by: Staff
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LONDON, Mar 17 (Reuters) Netherlands coach Marco van Basten has criticised FIFA's decision to stick to its May 15 deadline for the naming of the 23-man World Cup squads.

''This decision flies in the face of the wish of 32 national coaches,'' Van Basten told the Dutch Football Association's official website today.

''We thought it was in football's best interest if the deadline was moved. I'm very disappointed the decision is negative.'' Although most World Cup coaches had said after a two-day meeting in Duesseldorf earlier this month that they wanted the deadline put back, FIFA refused yesterday.

''The course of action is intended to afford the players concerned adequate recovery time, although injured players may be replaced after this date following a specific procedure,'' said world soccer's governing body in a statement.

President Sepp Blatter told reporters today that FIFA was keen to avoid player burn-out.

''We must ensure we don't have the same situation as we saw (at Euro 2004) in Portugal and (at the 2002 World Cup) in Japan and South Korea where players are completely burned out,'' said Blatter on the final day of a two-day executive committee meeting in Zurich.

''It was the national coaches who first complained about that situation and now, when the deadline has been known for more than a year, it is the same coaches who are suddenly saying it is too early.

''If I was a coach having to name my first 11 and having the chance to add another 12 players to that and still have the possibility to replace injured players on top of that, I would think that May 15 was fine.'' DOMENECH PROBLEM France coach Raymond Domenech does not plan to start his squad's World Cup preparations in earnest until one week after his 23 players must be named.

''This deadline is quite a problem,'' Domenech told today's L'Equipe newspaper.

The France squad are due to begin a five-day break at the Alps ski resort of Tignes immediately before the warm-up game against Mexico in Paris on May 27.

Domenech now wants to summon 30 players to Tignes.

''I'll pick 30. There will be seven guys to drop afterwards but I like it better this way,'' he said.

''It's always tricky to call up a player who is already on holiday and ask him to replace one of his colleagues.'' Ukraine also said they wanted a delay.

Team spokesman Igor Miroshnichenko said: ''Ukraine had been in favour of extending until May 30 the deadline for naming the squads. But as FIFA has now issued a ruling we will abide by it.'' The English Football Association said it was disappointed with FIFA's decision but would not elaborate.

The World Cup in Germany kicks off on June 9.

REUTERS PG KP2246

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