AS the man with all the power in world football, FIFA president Sepp Blatter travels to the biggest and best stadiums across the globe casting his eye over the game’s multi-millionaire stars.
But Blatter’s football fix this weekend is set to be a little bit different. For sandwiched between visits to the Bernabeu in Madrid and Old Trafford in Manchester, Mr Blatter is set to take in the Hearts v Motherwell encounter at Tynecastle this afternoon.
The unlikely visit comes as some of the game’s top power brokers meet in Edinburgh for the International Football Association Board (IFAB) AGM with the controversial issue of goal-line technology at the top of the agenda. The two-day summit is taking place in the Balmoral Hotel with a plush gala dinner also set to be held aboard the Royal Yacht Brittania in Leith.
A Hearts spokesman told the Evening News they were looking forward to the visit, adding: “We have extended an invitation to Mr Blatter and are delighted to host an individual of such standing in the game. We hope he enjoys the occasion and a home win!”
Away from the search for a new manager, the main topic of conversation at Tynecastle is likely to be less goal-line and more pie-to-seat technology. The club announced this week it was introducing an app to allow fans to order food direct to their seats.
Fans said they hoped the visit would encourage a good performance today – but feared the timing would give Blatter the wrong impression of the team. Brian Torry, 34, said: “It’s great news for the club that the most powerful man in world football is coming to Tynecastle, and hopefully the club will make sure he has a great experience – I’ve no doubt the fans will give him a great reception and he might even be able to get a pie delivered to his seat.
“I would be a bit concerned about what he’ll make of the team at the moment though – you would hope the guys on the park would want to impress, particularly after the manager has gone, but it’s hard to see how they can lift themselves as we have been so flat recently, and Motherwell will be right up for it after beating Celtic.
“Hopefully it will be a good game if nothing else – it wouldn’t look good if it turned into a classic Scottish stramash.”
Along with goal-line cameras other hot topics at the IFAB meeting include clarification of the interpretation of the offside rule.
Delegates will also discuss trials of an electronic chip in players’ shirts which could potentially warn of medical problems such as the heart attack suffered by Motherwell player Phil O’Donnell and more recently Bolton Wanderers star Fabrice Muamba.
As well as Mr Blatter, other leading figures in attendance include Scottish FA chief executive Stewart Regan, Wales FA president Trefor Lloyd-Hughes, Northern Ireland FA president Jim Shaw, FA chair David Bernstein and FA vice-chair and Manchester United chief executive David Gill.
UK associations have a big say in rule book
THE International Football Association Board (IFAB) is the body that determines the laws of association football.
Ever since it was formed in 1886, it has been made up only of football chiefs from the Home Nations – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – alongside world governing body FIFA.
The represenatatives gather twice a year – first to discuss changes to the laws, with each UK association given one vote and FIFA four, meaning its approval is always necessary – and then to debate its own internal affairs.
Football rules were first standardised in 1882 when the UK nations met to draw up plans for the British Home Championship.
The first meeting of IFAB then took place at the English FA’s offices in London on Wednesday, June 2, 1886 – and FIFA was then founded 18 years later.