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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 December, 2003, 10:34 GMT
Blatter condemns European clubs
Blatter is furious with the behaviour of Europe's big clubs

Sepp Blatter has accused Europe's richest clubs of 'despicable' behaviour and engaging in 'social and economic rape' as they scour the developing world for talent.

His comments echoed those made before this month's World Cup preliminary round draw in Frankfurt when the 67-year-old Fifa boss railed against the many wrongs he sees in the world game.

"I find it unhealthy, if not despicable, for rich clubs to send scouts shopping in Africa, South America and Asia to 'buy' the most promising players there," Blatter wrote in a column in Britain's Financial Times newspaper on Wednesday.

"This leaves those who trained them in their early years with nothing but cash for their trouble."

"Dignity and integrity tend to fall by the wayside in what has become a glorified body market.

Blatter added: "Europe's leading clubs conduct themselves increasingly as neo-colonialists who don't give a damn about heritage and culture, but engage in social and economic rape by robbing the developing world of its best players.

"If we're not careful, football may degenerate into a game of greed - a trend I will vigorously oppose."

In the past, many African players promised untold riches by unscrupulous football agents have been greatly exploited by the very people who are supposed to be looking after them.

The phrase 'football slavery' was even coined to describe footballers who ended up living in poor conditions and on insufficient salaries many miles from their homeland.

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