Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Monday June 9 2008
I simply have to write about this because I find it incredible so little is being said about it. In his tenure as UEFA President, Michel Platini has given me the impression of a smug, self satisfied idiot. This in itself probably makes him an ideal candidate to be the spearhead of a morally bankrupt organisation such as UEFA. However, his Anglophobic soundbites and actions are really beginning to grate to the point that I do not see how he can continue to hold onto his job. Those of you that read me regularly will be aware that I am often outspoken about the 'Little Englander' attitude that governs our media and the attitude of many supporters as well as the Football Association. However, on this occasion it is the blatantly anti-English agenda flaunted so liberally by UEFA that enrages me.
This weekend Platini made some comments which were predictably over egged by the British media. His assertion that he was not concerned about England's failure to qualify for Euro 2008 is not fair game for criticism. Why should he be concerned? He's a Frenchman in charge of the European game, why should England's failure to qualify bother him any more than Latvia's? However, some comments he made with regards to Manchester United and Chelsea appalled me. Far be it from me to stick up for either club, but Platini's assertion that they cheated their way to the Champions League final thanks to rich benefactors was absolutely stunning in its double standards. This the man charged with running an organisation that willingly allowed A.C. Milan, implicated in the Italian match fixing scandal, back into the Champions League. Why has Platini not labelled Milan cheats? Their club President also used to be the Italian President. Platini's ex club Juventus will also reappear in the tournament next year, a club who were releagted from Serie A two years ago for match fixing. Yet he has yet to label the Old Lady as cheats. F.C. Porto have been thrown out of this year's Champions' League for bribing officials. This offence dates back to 2004 and was first investigated by the Portuguese F.A. in 2006. Yet Porto have been allowed to compete in the Champions League in the ensuing years. Platini had no such strong adjectives for the Portuguese champions.
Even more amazing that he decries Chelsea and Manchester United's debt margins when one considers the case of Real Madrid. Nicknamed 'Royal' Madrid by cynics as their links with the Spanish royal family have been the cause of some consternation for more than fifty years. In 2001, Madrid's council suspiciously changed their planning laws at exactly the time Real were looking to sell of their training ground for development, allowing them to sell a previously protected area for a hugely inflated fee at the height of the property market. The City Council purchased the land for about double the market rate, which by a happy coincidence paid off Madrid's crippling debts. They went onto win the Champions League in 2002. Yet Platini has no words of ire for the Spanish giants. You might argue that the Madrid instance pre dates Platini's tenure at UEFA, but so does the purchase of Chelsea by Abramovich as well as Glazer's snafooing of United.
As I have already discussed at length, Septic Bladder has already explicitly outlined that his famed 6+5 idea is a reaction to the success of English clubs. Platini has also been very outspoken about the detriment of the success of English clubs in Europe as well as the influx of foreigners into the game. (Totally ignoring the fact that Platini made his name as a player by moving to Italy). Yet the governing bodies expressed no such concern over the dominance of the Italian or Spanish sides in the last fifteen years. What I want to know is how an organisation as reputed as UEFA is allowed to express such Anglophobic sentiments without shame or fear of reprisal? In the early nineties, when Paul Condon, head of the Metroplitan Police, told a press conference that most London muggings were carried out by black people, he was forced to apologise. In situations where even the slightest hint of prejudice is shown by authority figures, they are either removed or at the very least made to apologise. Why is Platini's job not under threat for his prejudice?
For example, in 1985 when Liverpool fans ran riot in Heysel, all English clubs were banned from Europe for five years. Over the last few years, Italy has become ill famed for acts of hooliganism. Two police officers have been killed at Serie A games this year, a Lazio fan has been shot by a policeman and a Sampdoria fan run over by a supporters club coach. Three years ago, referee Anders Frisk was struck by a coin at Rome's Stadio Olimpico and two Manchester United fans and a Middlesbrough fan have been stabbed in the last two years on visits to the same ground. So of course UEFA awarded Rome and the Stadio Olimpico the 2009 UEFA Champions League Final. What doubel standards? (Meanwhile, the Emirates Stadium is not allowed to host a Champions League final as there is a lack of car parking facilities for UEFA Executives).
Platini has also criticised Arsene Wenger personally for his policy on foreign youngsters. Well nothing Wenger has done contravenes UEFA rules, so why the fuck is Platini expressing that opinion? Change the rules if it bothers you so much. If not shut up. For all of their buffoonery, even the F.A. would not stoop so low. Imagine if Brian Barwick came out and said something along the lines of, 'I don't like the way Chelsea play football, it's boring.' As true as it might be, as an administrator of the game it's not his place to say. Administrators should only speak out when rules are being broken. You know the sort of thing, when teams fix matches or benefit from state handouts. Given his explicit anti Premier League agenda, I have to wonder why Platini is being asked for his resignation right now. What will he have to do before his position on the Premier League becomes untennable? Bomb Old Trafford? Urinate on the centre circle of Anfield? I've no time for people who operate in such parochial, biased mind sets, especially authority figures who flaunt them so brazenly. Platini, you have gone too far. If you have any decency, you should resign today.LD.
Date:Monday June 9 2008
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