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Blatter loses IOC backing in EU battle for control

Written by: Staff

BRUSSELS, Oct 26 (Reuters) FIFA president Sepp Blatter was left isolated today in his battle to stop politicians interferring in the way sport is run in Europe after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) backed down on the issue.

Last month Blatter and IOC president Jacques Rogge wrote to the European Commission and EU sports ministers protesting about proposed changes to the way sport will be governed in the EU.

However, Rogge is now distancing himself from the matter.

According to sources close to the matter, the IOC chief told British sports minister Richard Caborn, who is leading the political campaign, in a phone call that he regretted signing the letter.

European football's governing body UEFA is seeking the adoption by the 25 EU governments of a European Sports Review completed in April which recommends closer control of sport in the EU including salary caps on soccer players and the monitoring of agents.

In their letter, FIFA and the IOC said they do not support the review and told EU lawmakers and politicians the governance of the sport should be left to soccer's own rule makers.

But in his letter of response, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, Caborn refers to the phone conversation, stating that Rogge told him that the review was ''a very good document for football''.

''Rogge told Caborn that he did have some reservations about the paper in the overall context of sport in general terms, but that there were a lot of positive points,'' a source said.

Caborn is expected to meet the IOC chief in the coming weeks.

An IOC source said Rogge felt he had been ''hoodwinked'' by FIFA in signing the document and described the signature as a ''miscalculation'' by the IOC chief.

''There are a number of soccer people in very important positions within the IOC and they told Rogge that they were not happy with his move,'' the IOC source said.

Blatter himself, as president of FIFA, is also an IOC member and, technically at least, has to balance the interests of both organisations in his decision-making.

In practice however, his priority is to act solely in the best interests of FIFA and that decision appears to have left rather more isolated than he may have wished.

Reuters DH DB2018

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