Saturday, February 02, 2008


Platini in Power - update #4

There has been plenty of praise for Michel Platini on the anniversary of his accession to the presidency of UEFA, and not without reason. He has achieved more than most pundits expected, as even his former rival has indicated.

Although much of the attention over the past year has centred on the abstruse changes to the Champions' League format, Platini's greatest achievement has surely been to reach an agreement with the G14 group of clubs, which will see them abandon all pending legal action against UEFA and FIFA (in return for some much-desired financial compensation for the "loss" of players to international duty). Sepp Blatter must have breathed a huge sigh of relief as a result, given the potentially ruinous consequences for FIFA had the Abdelmajid Oulmers case run its full course.

I should add that a certain well-known football journalist, on Platini taking the hot seat at UEFA, privately expressed the opinion that the G14 group would "run rings" around him. It hasn't happened, and although there have been plenty of rumours of disunity within the club cabal, Platini deserves great credit for his diplomatic skills in that area.

The European Nations' Cup was controversially awarded to Poland and Ukraine on Platini's watch, and it still looks a very, very risky decision; Platini is certainly aware of the problems, and has used the occasion of the UEFA congress to give the co-hosts a polite boot up the posterior. On the subject of the Nations' Cup, Platini has properly spoken out against the absurd proposal to expand the tournament. The 24-team World Cups (from 1982 to 1994) showed exactly why it's a lousy number for a knockout event; and in any case, expansion of one of the summer tournaments is the last thing the football world needs at this time.

There are some issues on which Platini remains impervious to common sense (predictably enough, these tend to be bees-in-the-bonnet shared with Sepp Blatter), but on the whole he can be proud of his first year as UEFA kingpin.

Oddly enough, the one thing in the recent past that has caused the most controversy is his supposition that C. Ronaldo doesn't produce in the big games.

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