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JFA Website Special

FIFA President Sepp Blatter says that the reform of Asia's professional leagues will stimulate world football. Blatter spoke to JFA Web following a presentation and address on the project by JFA President Saburo Kawabuchi at the AFC Congress in Kuala Lumpur.

"I was very impressed by the presentation made by my dear colleague and friend Captain Kawabuchi," said President Blatter.

Kawabuchi made the 30-minute presentation to explain the objectives of reforming the AFC Champions League and the professional leagues in every Asian country, using the launch of the J. League 15 years ago as an example. The JFA have assumed the role of secretariat for the AFC project, and Kawabuchi is serving as the chairman of the AFC Professional League Ad-Hoc Committee.

President Blatter commented: "In Japan, you had these ideas in 1991 and you started the J. League in 1993. After five years, you were already a powerhouse in football, qualifying for the World Cup in 1998 for the first time and then organizing the World Cup in 2002. Now the J. League is one of the well-respected leagues not only in Asia, but also in the world."
Having attended the Kawabuchi presentation, Blatter noted that forming a professional league is "so easy to realize if the people have a will and a wish to organize a professional league."

The FIFA president revealed that he would like to appoint Kawabuchi to football's world governing body to promote solid professional leagues in various countries. India is one of the countries FIFA are currently paying great attention to in order to assist in the development of its football.

"Why should we have to send a professor from Europe to install a professional league [in India] if we have one in Japan?" President Blatter inquired.

"These examples [of the J. League] shall now go to India and lots of the countries where they want to have a professional league or a better professional league - say in Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh and Vietnam. We shall help them."

President Blatter said the Asian market can provide opportunities for players from around the world.

"You cannot put more people in Europe because we are still playing only with 11 players [per team]. In South America or Africa, the players want to go to play in professional leagues. Where can they go? Asia. But they [Asian countries] have to offer a decent league to them."

FIFA President Blatter was in Kuala Lumpur to attend the AFC Congress on May 7-8.

●JFA President Kawabuchi stresses importance of AFC Pro League project

●Interview with AFC President Hammam