English soccer, Blatter improve relationship

Associated Press Published: November 21, 2012
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BURTON-ON-TRENT, England (AP) — More than a year after the leaders of English soccer tried to block his re-election, FIFA President Sepp Blatter signaled an end to the tensions between the two sides on Wednesday at the England team's new training base.

Blatter, who was booed by fans during his last visit to England during the London Olympics, visited St. George's Park on Wednesday. FIFA contributed $500,000 toward the medical center at the training ground.

Relations between FIFA and England were strained last year when the Football Association tried to block Blatter's re-election amid corruption scandals, while the FIFA president spoke about English "arrogance" after their failed bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

But Blatter said Wednesday that there is no lingering animosity.

"When there are human beings from time to time relations are not as such as they should be in a very educated family," Blatter said. "But when you are able then to bring everybody back to the same level, and this has been done in the past now with FIFA and the FA, we are very happy to participate with the creation of this wonderful St. George's Park."

Blatter went on a two-hour tour of the facility in central England with FA chairman David Bernstein, who led moves in 2011 to halt Blatter's re-election.

"What we witness today is not only a co-operation at the footballing level," Blatter said. "It is on friendship ... don't go back to the past. Now we are living a wonderful day. It's the present."

The FA carries significant weight in world soccer because of its position on the rule-making International Football Association Board. FIFA has four votes, and England is one of the four U.K. nations with the other votes to change the game.

"You are a good partner of football," Blatter said. "Perceived arrogance is something that has nothing to do with our game. Our game is one that has been organized in England."

Blatter spoke fondly of his trip to the Olympics in July and August, and how the country coped with mass crowds.

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