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FIFA President Blatter plans to cut friendly subs

Updated: 2004-02-10 09:31

FIFA president Sepp Blatter is to try to force through new rules this month to limit the number of substitutes in international friendlies to five players.

FIFA President Joseph Blatter (L), speaks during a meeting of the South American soccer Confederation (CONMEBOL) in Asuncion February 7, 2004. Blatter spoke of the possibility of the 2014 World Cup being held in a South American country, during the CONMEBOL's annual meeting at the Yacht and Golf Club in Asuncion. [Reuters]
The attempt to change the laws of the game will be made at a meeting of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in London and if the bid is successful, it will have huge significance for England head coach Sven-Goran Eriksson who has changed his entire team during friendlies.

In fact, it was Eriksson's decision to make 11 substitutions against Australia last year which first drew Blatter's attention to the issue.

FIFA's submission to the IFAB, which will be heard on February 27 and 28, says: 'The practice of making large numbers of substitutions in friendly matches devalues the game and creates a farcical situation. The number of substitutes used in friendly matches must be controlled.'

Eriksson is understood to have contacted Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni and France boss Jacques Santini among other international coaches to gauge their feelings on the issue and he could instruct the Football Association to try to block the rule change.

Each home nation has a voting place on the IFAB with FIFA also having four votes. Any rule change needs at least six of the eight votes to become law.

The FA themselves want to see the experimental 10-yard rule - where free-kicks are advanced 10 yards in cases of dissent or failing to retreat - become law.

Their submission to the IFAB meeting says: 'Where it has been applied in experiments in amateur, semi-professional and professional football matches, it has significantly improved the quality of sportsmanship and assisted referees controlling games.

'The risk of instant punishment of the offending team, as a result of an individual player's misconduct, has proved to be a helpful deterrent to unfair tactics and fair play has become much more prevalent.'

If the original offence is within 10 yards of the penalty area, then the free-kick is advanced to the edge of the box.

Experiments have shown it proved to be a disadvantage when the free-kick was moved actually into the penalty area.

Other matters on the agenda include proposals that competitive matches be allowed on artificial turf, that the maximum half-time break is extended from 15 to 20 minutes, and that players who remove their shirts in goal celebrations are automatically booked.

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