NYON (Switzerland): UEFA president Michel Platini says he is ready to make unpopular decisions to protect football, such as excluding clubs from European competitions if they spend beyond their means.
In a wide-ranging interview with AFP, touching on his opposition to goal-line technology and his support for a winter World Cup in Qatar in 2022 amongst other things, Platini said “financial fair-play” was essential in wider cash-strapped times.
“There’s no lack of money. Clubs have never spent more. But it’s bad financial management. We need to get rules in place… and there’ll be no backtracking,” said the former France captain.
“Governments are having to tighten their belts and it’s not going down well in their countries. We (at UEFA) probably won’t be popular but we have to do it, otherwise football will be destroyed.”
UEFA’s executive committee unanimously approved the concept of financial fair-play back in 2009, with the main aim of bringing “more discipline and rationality” to club finances, particularly over salaries and transfer fees.
Platini said there would be no exceptions, even if clubs with foreign owners like France’s Paris St Germain or Manchester City in the English Premier League had deep enough pockets to operate at a loss.
Both PSG and the Sky Blues are controlled by Gulf investors.
UEFA are currently studying what Platini said was a “range of sanctions” for clubs that fail to meet the financial fair-play criteria.
“It goes from fines to exclusion from competitions but it may also be sanctions in terms of recruitment… The goal is not to kill off clubs. It’s about setting out rules,” said Platini.
Platini said he was prepared to be in the firing line if clubs that transgress were banned from European competition but he said the rules were “important for the legitimacy and popularity” of the game.
Meanwhile, the former midfielder, who guided France to European glory in 1984, said his push to open up Europe’s most prestigious club competition to smaller countries had paid off.
Minnows APOEL Nicosia of Cyprus have been the main beneficiaries, making it through to the Champions League last eight and a tie with Spanish giants Real Madrid later this month.
“I’m happy that they’re playing. It’s proof that these small countries have the right to play in the Champions League,” he said.
“Why should the champions of some countries not play when some teams that came fifth in others play?”
Platini also said he was getting growing support from fans for a winter World Cup in Qatar in 2022, with only leagues opposed because of the potential disruption to their domestic calendar.
Platini said the competition “has to be played at the right time” and that flexibility over the dates would mean more countries would get the chance to host it in the future.
Elsewhere, the UEFA boss again made his case against goal-line technology, arguing that to increase the number of officials at games from three to five made more financial sense than expensive cameras and equipment.
Platini said he had been in favour of technology but had reassessed his position, maintaining that more officials would be fairer for players.
“If five of them get it wrong three of them would have got it wrong. But the opposite isn’t necessarily true,” he argued.
Platini also brushed off concerns about this year’s European Championship in Poland and Ukraine, saying the tournament was playing a key role in developing much-needed infrastructure.
“That’s what is left after such an event, a legacy that wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t the Euros.
“It’s a great adventure, complicated, difficult. But difficult births often lead to beautiful babies,” he said. — AFP
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