FIFA boss Blatter backs Japan for Club World Cup

FIFA president has given the go-ahead for Japan to host the 2011 Club World Cup.

Tokyo: FIFA president Sepp Blatter gave the go-ahead on Monday for Japan to host the 2011 Club World Cup despite the devastation of the March 11 quake-tsunami disaster and the ensuing nuclear emergency.

There had been doubts over Japan`s ability to stage the December tournament after the triple disaster left nearly 25,000 dead or missing and briefly threw the country`s sporting calendar into disarray.

"We are absolutely confident that Japan will organise this competition," Blatter said after meeting Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and football officials.
"You`ll never know what happens in our disturbed world," the 75-year-old mused. "This is why football can play a part. Football in its continuity can play a good part."

Blatter`s backing came as a further boost after the International Gymnastics Federation ruled Sunday Tokyo could go ahead with hosting the world championships in October, despite other cities offering to take its place.

The International Volleyball Federation has also decided to stick with plans to stage the men`s and women`s World Cup in Japan in November and December.

"We`ll not think that something again would happen in this country. Let`s look forward with optimism and confidence that these competitions will be here like gymnastics, volleyball and others," Blatter said.

"I`m very happy to see other international federations going exactly in the same direction," he added.
The annual Club World Cup held in Japan four times before the United Arab Emirates took over hosting duties in 2009, pits the champion teams from all six continental confederations against one another.

Blatter said Kan had assured him of Japan`s "will and determination" to return to the forefront of world sport.

Blatter, seeking a fourth and final four-year term as FIFA president in an election on June 1, said the organisation was considering aid programmes including stadium repairs and a charity match to raise cash for quake reconstruction across Japan.

The disaster has disrupted the sporting calendar, with the world figure skating championships moving from Tokyo to Moscow, the hugely popular professional baseball season was delayed by three weeks and five rounds of football`s J-League were suspended.

International football friendlies in Japan against Montenegro and New Zealand in March were cancelled, while the May 14-15 Yokohama leg of the triathlon world championship series was moved to September.

Rugby union`s world governing body has moved five of the six Pacific Nations Cup matches in July from Japan to Fiji.

Bureau Report

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