Whelan’s Fifa rap over internationals

Dave Whelan
Dave Whelan

DAVE Whelan has hit out at football’s world governing body Fifa – and labelled the timing of their latest round of international fixtures as ‘scandalous’.

Latics paid a high price at the weekend for having eight men on international duty in midweek, crumbling to a 2-0 home defeat against Swansea.

Gary Caldwell and James McArthur had both played 90 minutes for Scotland over in Slovenia, while Maynor Figueroa, Antolin Alcaraz, Ali Al Habsi, Momo Diame and Victor Moses clocked up the air miles with trips to locations as exotic as Panama, Ecuador and Rwanda.

As a result, Latics put in a performance described by Whelan as ‘our worst in four or five years’.

But after meeting with boss Roberto Martinez to assess the wreckage, the chairman has come out fighting – and aimed both barrels at Sepp Blatter and Co.

“We have to encourage the Premier League to stand up to Uefa and Fifa, and tell them that we are not wearing these friendlies any more,” Whelan told the Evening Post.

“To have friendlies at this stage of the season all over the world, I think, is wrong.

“There is no reason whatsoever to have them –other than to generate money for themselves – and we have to foot the bill for the wages and any injuries.

“They should put a limit on friendlies during the season at two. It’s absolutely scandalous what is happening.”

Whelan had previously questioned Martinez’s decision to leave both Moses and Diame on the bench.

“Like the rest of the supporters, I was absolutely gutted with our performance against Swansea,” he added.

“But what a lot of people hadn’t realised – including myself – is that we had eight players away on international duty last week, and a couple of them only got back on the Friday evening.”

Despite remaining rock bottom of the Premier League, Whelan is still confident the side have it in them to produce another ‘Great Escape’.

“The lads have trained well this week and they’re determined to put in a performance at Norwich,” he revealed. “The pressure is on, but they’ll be ready for it.

“I know they were all feeling awful about their performance against Swansea, and they’ll be looking forward to getting it out of their system.

“If we win on Sunday, we could be two places above the drop zone – and we have to take advantage of that.

“This club has fought back from a lot worse situations than this, and I’m sure we’ll do so again.”