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Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011

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Youth movement: FIFA president Sepp Blatter meets local children at the Matsushima Football Centre on Saturday. KYODO

Blatter touts Japan to host 2019 WWC


MATSUSHIMA, Miyagi Pref. — FIFA president Sepp Blatter has endorsed the idea of Women's World Cup champion Japan hosting the 2019 tournament.

Speaking after his visit to disaster-hit areas in Miyagi Prefecture and the FIFA-funded Matsushima Football Centre on Saturday, Blatter said the proposal will be brought up at next week's executive committee in Tokyo, which is expected to face few objections.

The next Women's World Cup in 2015 will be held in Canada. Japan won the event for the first time in Germany this summer.

"Japan has proven the organizational capacities when they organized the FIFA World Cup in 2002 together with your neighbors in South Korea," Blatter said.

"Yes, it would be good to have other international competitions and let's just wait until the next executive committee of FIFA and maybe we will have another competition to offer to Japan."

"But it would be something in connection with women's football," he said. "The Women's World Cup has been played in China, the first one in 1989, and it hasn't been back to Asia since. Now you have the world champions and while the next one has already been given to Canada in 2015, it's open and we should come back to Asia with the women's championship."

Blatter added one of the quake-hit areas — possibly Sendai — will host next year's Club World Cup, which is currently being held in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, and Yokohama.

"This year, we had to stick on these two cities but next year, it's all open," he said. "And I'm sure, together with the local organizing committee and my friend (JFA president) Junji (Ogura), we will find a solution.

"I am totally in favor of using one of the stadia — Sendai is a possibility — but we will find out which is the best one in order to not disturb the competition. The distances are so short now with planes, so it shall be done."

World soccer's governing body has donated $6.4 million to help the Japan Football Association recover from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. FIFA partner Adidas has also given out 15,000 balls and 15,000 units of soccer apparel.

The money and equipment has been spread around the four quake-affected prefectures of Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki and Iwate.

Blatter said he was shocked after seeing first-hand the damage done by the quake and tsunami.

"This is desolation, what I have seen," the Swiss said. "It looks like a field devastated by war situations, but this has been devastated by nature.

"It goes under the skin when you see it."

Mourinho stays silent


MADRID — Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho opted for silence ahead of Saturday's "Clasico" against Barcelona in the Spanish League.

Mourinho sent assistant Aitor Karanka to face journalists at a news conference Friday after the team's final training session before the match at Bernabeu Stadium.

Karanka was curt when twice asked why Mourinho was absent.

"I've been here (at news conferences) more than 30 times," he said, adding that he didn't need to give further explanations about why Mourinho had decided not to appear. "Whatever message the boss has is the same one I have and the same the players have."

It's not the first time Mourinho has skipped a briefing before important matches.

Before hosting Barcelona at the Bernabeu last season, Karanka was also dispatched to answer questions — prompting a number of journalists to walk out in protest at the unprecedented measure.

Karanka also took over media duties while Mourinho was serving a touchline ban from the Champions League earlier this season and has fielded questions ahead of important league matches against Villarreal and Valencia.

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