Saturday, January 27, 2007


Platini in Power

Big news on the international front overnight, with Michel Platini ending Lennart Johansson's 16-year reign as president of UEFA. Bonne chance in your new position, M. Platini.

First and foremost, it's good to have one of the finest players in history occupying a position of genuine administrative significance. Although Platini apparently sees himself as more of a leader and ideas man than a nuts-and-bolts administrator, he won plenty of admiration as the chargé d'affaires for the 1998 World Cup.

The main plank of Platini's election platform was his plan to limit the number of teams per country in the UEFA Champions' League to three. Although this could be seen as merely a ploy to gain the votes of the "smaller" European nations, who will obviously benefit from such a move, the plan is a commendable one. The absurdly-named Champions' League, for all the entertainment it provides, has become a closed shop in many respects; this year's final sixteen features no less than ten clubs from just three countries. Gabriel Hanot would have had a coronary.

Johansson, of course, was the architect of the expansion of the old European Cup. Its gigantic spawn, the Champions' League, is now a precious cash cow not just for the big clubs involved, but UEFA as well; if Platini is able to put his limit-of-three plan into action, there will surely be a shortfall in UEFA revenue...which will have to be made up somehow.

Platini is unlikely to be in favour of the recent 24-team Euro proposal. Sepp Blatter, understandably, is dead against it, and Platini is very much Blatter's man. Given the history of the 24-team World Cup and all the mathematical awkwardness associated with it, not to mention the need to ease the burden on the top players in any case, the proposal deserves to be shot down.

One small lingering worry about Platini: he is quite likely to adopt the sort of football-is-above-the-law rhetoric favoured by his FIFA patron. In an interview with World Soccer magazine in December, he gave a strong indication of his distaste at being shackled by the outside world:

"I do not want our regulations dictated by judges in some tribunal or law court - like the Bosman ruling or the way the Charleroi case is being decided. We need to regulate football, and by "we" I mean UEFA, FIFA, the national associations, the clubs, the players, the presidents, eveybody."

Platini may just find that the world doesn't quite work like that.

Until the Euro Champions League has only the champions from each league and cups around Europe it is a sham.

Dortmund are still the reigning Champions League winners. ;)

All Platini needs to do is satisfy the sponsors, whatever does that best is what will change.
Not sure about Platini....... Whilst it is nice to see a modern footballer in a position of power within UEFA, his allegience to the dodgy Sepp Blatter is very concerning.

Johannson, as your previously reviewed book 'Foul' suggested, was very much about questioning thew actions of Blatter, and that had to be a good thing.

The reality with the Champions League is that fans and sponsors want to see the best teams pitted against each other, and if 10 of the best teams come from 3 countries, then why keep them out of the competition.

The smaller nations may demand greater representation, but the smaller nations that do qualify for the group stages are almost always eliminated at the first stage and are simply there to make up the numbers.
Would be a bold, but morally correct move, to revert back to how the Champions League should be set up. With reducing the number of participating clubs from the big leagues to 3 shouldn't meet too much oppposition (other than the sponsors)?
...With reducing the number of participating clubs from the big leagues to 3 shouldn't meet too much oppposition (other than the sponsors)?...

On the contrary, the G14 will fight it tooth and nail, and indeed plenty of the other UEFA committee members will be against it (mainly because it's likely to adversely affect revenue).

I wish him success, but he's fighting an uphill battle on that one.

...Whilst it is nice to see a modern footballer in a position of power within UEFA, his allegience to the dodgy Sepp Blatter is very concerning....

I agree, but I'm not sure Platini will be able to develop the sort of dictatorial, unaccountable style of leadership that Blatter has engineered for himself at FIFA (even should he want to).
Its a shame, but I'm predicting Platini will become a lame duck. Unless he compromises on everything and then affects no real change.

Also, I had been under the impression that Platini was his own man. I guess you can't be if you make that sort of rise.
Platini's idea of reducing the number of clubs participating from any country to three is a very good one and that will give the so-called lesser nations a chance and also experience.

Yes, it will get some opposition but lets face it, it only affects three countries, namely England, Spain and Italy. These are the only countries that get a possible four teams in the Champions League at the moment.
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