Rio De Janeiro - Fifa president Sepp Blatter stopped short of saying the World Cup in Brazil was the best ever staged, but he gave it 9.25 out of 10 on Monday, describing it as a “very, very special” tournament highlighted by attacking football.
Speaking the day after the month-long extravaganza ended with Germany crowned as champions after beating Argentina in the final, Blatter said he was delighted with the tournament.
“Brazil has improved on four years ago in South Africa,” he said. Four years ago he gave South Africa nine marks out of 10.
Smiling broadly, Blatter told reporters at his post-tournament news briefing; “We consulted all our computers and our Facebooks last night and decided on 9.25 out of 10, so Brazil is an improvement on South Africa.
“But I always say that perfection does not exist in football, or in life.
“This was my 10th World Cup and my fifth as president and what makes this so very, very special was the quality of the football and the intensity of the games.”
The final statistics tend to support the widespread belief that this tournament, which far outweighed expectations, is a contender for the best ever.
The final goals tally of 171 equalled the record set in France in 1998, there was a 40 percent reduction in injuries and a vast improvement in discipline.
There were 177 yellow cards and 10 red cards compared to 245 yellows in South Africa and 17 reds. The all-time low came in Germany with 307 yellows and 28 dismissals.
But in real terms there was more games with a higher standard of play than in previous finals, with huge, knowledgeable crowds and vast hordes in fan fests.
“We started with very good attacking football which was new,” Blatter said.
“In the first phase, generally the teams don't want to lose, but this time .. boom boom ... from the start it was aggressive attacking football from the first game, and then when Spain, the defending champions, lost 5-1 to Holland, I knew this was going to be a very special World Cup.
“There was not one single match that did not have this intensity even if not all the games were of the highest level.”
He also said that F could do more in its fight against racism and discrimination.
“We have to fight it and I am not at all happy with the way we have fought against racism here,” he said. “We have to do more.”
Turning to Russia which will host the World Cup in 2018 Blatter said: “It's a footballing country but the bar has been raised.” – Reuters