KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING
– LONDON: Michel Platini would be the ideal man to take over as president of world federation FIFA when Sepp Blatter steps down in 2015 – according to the one man who might once have been considered a possible successor himself.
Franz Beckenbauer, who retired from the FIFA executive in June after just one four-year term representing UEFA, has put the force of his own stature behind the Frenchman.
Beckenbauer said: “Michel Platini is doing a super job at UEFA and with him things are moving along brightly. I see him as the obvious successor for Sepp Blatter. He does it well, he represents football and he gets things done.
“I hope very much that he follows through to make sure that financial fairplay is enforced to get a grip on a lack of serious conduct in some places . . . Football isn’t an investment toy it’s a sport. It doesn’t deserve the behaviour of certain clubs
“Right now there are huge amounts of money circulating in the game. It’s time for major housekeeping and I hope Michel manages that.”
Change for the better?
Beckenbauer, in an interview with the French newspaper L’Equipe, was less optimistic about the prospect of reform of FIFA.
He said: “I don’t know if it’s possible to change so many things which need it. We all saw what happened with the award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Football is run by people who, perhaps, profit a little from the process.
“Everyone is demanding reforms from Sepp Blatter but what sort of reforms? At least there is some sort of democratic process. It’s easy to question whether it’s the 24 members of the exco or the entire congress who should choose the World Cup hosts.
“At least no-one can question the game itself. It’s such a power that it will always survive.”
Beckenbauer, honorary president now of Bayern Munich, thought his executive colleagues Uli Hoeness and Karl-Heinz had gone ‘over the top’ with their recent attacks on Blatter.
“That was a pity – the words they used weren’t appropriate. You always have to maintain due respect and never forget the human aspects. Blatter is someone with whom it’s always possible to discuss things.”
The choice of Qatar had been a surprise for Beckenbauer who is generally thought to have voted for first-round fallers Australia and then for the United States in the 2022 World Cup bid vote. He still believes the finals that year should be switched to winter because of the heat.
Beckenbauer said: “I was surprised by the decision even though I was in the room at the time. Qatar has no football tradition though it does represent new commercial markets.
“Still, it’s impossible to play football at 40 or 50 degrees. That’s far too hot. The Emir has proposed a multi-million investment for air-cooled stadia, fan zones and training grounds. But what’s the point? If the World Cup were played in January, as I have suggested, all those millions could be saved.”
Elsewhere in the interview Beckenbauer said he had no regrets about his short unsatisfactory spell as coach of Marseille in the early 1990s and said the one particular factor for which he envied today’s footballers was not their enormous earnings but the excellent pitches on which they play compared with his days.
Asked how he viewed the rebellion by French players during the 2010 World Cup finals, Beckenbauer was scathing.
“They behaved like a bunch of anarchists,” he said. “I can’t imagine anything like that happening with a German team.”