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Napoli's Higuain wants to match Maradona

By ESPN Staff

Blatter delight at World Cup success

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has spoken of his delight at the World Cup passing off without any major incident and believes the success of the tournament fully justifies his choice of picking South Africa as hosts.

Predicitons of doom and gloom repeatedly surfaced in the years leading up to the event but, despite admitting he had also had some minor reservations, Blatter branded the tournament an unquestionable success.

"It is a mixture of great pleasure and justification,'' Blatter told the German Football Association's official website. "Of course the pressure before was very high, even for me. The clamour would have been huge if there had been problems.

"When you now think that hundreds of thousands of people came to South Africa, met up with other people in cities like Cape Town, Durban or Port Elizabeth and celebrated peacefully together, then that is something fantastic.

"There were hardly any incidents of violence and, despite the huge logistical challenge, there were no major incidents in the field of transportation. It was hard to predict the fans being so peaceful with each other and to see that was very emotional.''

Blatter believes not only that the many visitors from abroad gained something from the event, but that South Africa as a country will benefit from the experience.

"Economically, something has already been achieved,'' Blatter said. "The President (Jacob Zuma) has told me that a growth in gross domestic product of 0.5% is expected. It is at least a starting point and now South Africa has got to do something by itself.

"Maybe what the World Cup has done emotionally for the entire African continent is more important than the economical aspect. They have gained faith. They have shown themselves and the whole world that they are capable of achieving things.''

Nevertheless, there is still plenty to be learned from the World Cup and Blatter has made it his priority to ensure the standards of refereeing are improved. However, that does not necessarily mean that he will open up to the use of new technology.

"The biggest building site in football, and I said this even before the World Cup, is the refereeing,'' Blatter said. "At the end of October, the start of November, we will produce a concept for elite referees. There will be a reduction in the (referees') age.

"Furthermore, I am in favour of professional referees, even though I know that there are other opinions on this. As for technological aids, that is a bit more complicated. Any system has got to be examined carefully before its implementation.''


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