It’s an old politician trick; wait until everybody is distracted by Christmas, a long weekend or a major sporting event, and then release news that you’re hoping won’t get much of a play.

And so it was that FIFA President Sepp Blatter chose the Thursday of Australia’s grand final build-up for the AFL and NRL competitions to admit that a World Cup final being decided via penalty shoot-out, well, sucks.

OK, maybe the head of the soccer world hadn’t taken Australia’s rival codes into account. But the news did slip through the media net here.

Blatter said that the biggest football competition in the world being decided on a penalty shoot-out was a “tragedy”. He vowed that the game’s rulers would kick around alternative, fairer endings and hopefully have something in place in time for the next World Cup, in South Africa in 2010.

“Maybe to replay the match if it’s the final? You can’t do that through the tournament because of lack of time. Maybe to take players away (during extra time) and play golden goal,” Blatter told Reuters.

The FIFA boss didn’t mince words, saying: “When it comes to the World Cup final it is passion and when it goes to extra time it is a drama. But when it comes to penalty kicks, it is a tragedy. Football is a team sport and penalties is not a team, it is the individual.”

Blatter also attacked the bloated player salaries in the game, saying they were immoral and resulted in fans being priced out of being able to attend games, as clubs tried to cover massive wages.

“It is not moral, it is definitely not good for our sport,” he said. “They pay too much money to the players. There is an imbalance in their finances and they try to get money by all means.”

Peter Fray

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