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Sep 11, 2005

Greece, Poland and Portugal warned by Blatter

MARRAKESH, Morocco, Sept 11 (Reuters) - FIFA president Sepp Blatter warned on Saturday that the world body could take action against Greece, Poland and Portugal unless their governments amend domestic laws to make them compatible with FIFA statutes.

Blatter said FIFA is also monitoring the situation in Kenya and has given the Kenyan Football Association 'more time to get its house in order' because of government interference there.

FIFA regularly suspends member associations for government interference or the non-payment of fees, for example, but usually the sanctions are taken against smaller members rather than high profile European countries.

But Blatter, speaking at a news conference after an executive committee meeting, said: 'In general the national laws of these countries contradict the international statutes of FIFA.'

FIFA is concerned that Portuguese law allows the national league too much autonomy and that in Poland there is the possibility of too much interference in the hiring and firing of football officials.

A number of points worry FIFA about Greece, the European champions, including the appointment of referees and disciplinary matters.

'I have written to the Prime Minister of Portugal personally and I am hoping that in the autumn they will bring this matter to Parliament and there will be a change in the law.'

He also said that FIFA were allowing Kenya more time to sort out their problems and would wait another three months until Kenya's World Cup qualifying campaign was over.

Blatter said FIFA wants the changes in domestic laws in those countries to be completed by the end of the World Cup finals next summer, although he did not specify what action FIFA might take if changes were not made.

FIFA also wants to set up a Task Force to monitor problems arising in the game including multi-ownership of clubs by individuals, the role of agents in transfers, corruption in football, illegal betting and the problem of clubs attempting to get soccer issues settled in civil courts.

The creation of the Task Force will go ahead once it is approved at FIFA's 55th congress here on Monday.

Without mentioning Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich by name, Blatter said: 'You will remember that last year there was already a question about the ownership of one club in Russia and one club in the premier league in England.'

G14 INTERVENTION

FIFA is also incensed that the Belgium club Charleroi, with the backing of the G14 group of elite clubs, has taken a case to the Belgian courts regarding Moroccan player Abdelmajid Oulmers.

Oulmers was out for eight months after tearing ankle ligaments playing a friendly for Morocco against Burkina Faso last November.

Blatter said FIFA was asking the Belgium FA to sanction Charleroi as a result.

Charleroi paid for Oulmers's surgery and his salary even though he was unable to play and has tried to reclaim some of the money back from FIFA.

The case opened in the Charleroi Commercial Court last Monday and the G14 has taken up the matter arguing that FIFA's refusal to contribute towards players' salaries - even though clubs lose money when they suffer injuries playing for their national teams - is illegal.

Blatter also said that FIFA's membership would rise to 207 nations on Monday when Congress approves the applications from East Timor and the Comoros Islands as their latest members.