February 13 – Zvonimir Boban, FIFA’s new deputy general secretary, has been quick to play down any embarrassment caused by Marco Van Basten over the Dutch icon’s revolutionary blueprint for the future of football.
Van Basten, now FIFA’s technical development director, caused somewhat of a stir recently when he advocated scrapping offside, introducing sinbins in place of yellow cards and a raft of other controversial proposals.
But in an interview with Croatia’s Sportske Novosti newspaper Boban said van Basten’s views did not represent those of world football’s governing body.
“I was personally responsible for the publication of such ideas because I had to review the statement first and authorise it later,” said Boban. “His ideas and proposed changes were very revolutionary but it must be made clear that these were his personal opinions.
“He was speaking as Marco Van Basten, not as director of the FIFA football development sector.”
Boban also took the opportunity to defend the expansion of the World Cup to 48 teams from 2026, a concept initiated by his boss, FIFA president Gianni Infantino. The idea has been lambasted by Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, chairman of the European Club Association, but Boban hit back.
“Criticising FIFA is always popular . . . but no-one has ever presented and elaborated serious arguments to explain why FIFA should not change the World Cup format this way,” he said.
“Rummenigge is an absolute giant who commands great respect but his statement is nonsense until he explains what actually troubles him so much.”
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