YOKOHAMA, Japan -- FIFA president Sepp Blatter thinks Japan
and South Korea have some glitches to work out before the 2002
The two countries just finished holding the Confederations Cup,
a dry run for the World Cup, and Blatter was pleased with the way
they handled the 11-day, eight-nation tournament.
However, Blatter had trouble getting to and from Ulsan, on South
Korea's southeast coast.
"There must be more airplanes from one country to another," he
said. "They must use all airports for international arrivals and
Blatter also said he might suggest putting a roof on Yokohama
International Stadium, where the Japan-Australia semifinal was
nearly washed out by a downpour, typical of Japan's June rainy
season. The final for the 32-nation World Cup next year is June 30.
Another problem is the long-standing rivalry between Japan and
Korea that has given rise to bureaucratic and financial hassles --
it is hard to exchange one nation's currency for the other.
"This has to be changed definitely," Blatter said. "We cannot
have two countries as co-hosts if in the other country you cannot
pay your bills."
Asked whether the budding detente between North and South Korea
might give the communist North a role in the Cup, Blatter said FIFA
wouldn't object to a mixed team.
But if North Korea wants to stage some World Cup games, Blatter
said South Korea would have to cancel some of its own.
Blatter said he planned to visit the North Korean capital of
Pyongyang in October or November, and a final decision on game
sites will be made before the World Cup draw Dec. 1.
At the Confederations Cup, the 16 games drew 290,000 fans in
South Korea and about 283,000 in Japan -- an average of more than
"This quantity confirms the value of the competition," Blatter
Blatter regretted the absence of Japanese star Hidetoshi Nakata
in the final. The AS Roma midfielder returned to his Italian club
for a key game with Napoli.
There will be no such conflicts come January. A worldwide soccer
calendar will set aside June and two weeks in July for