KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING
— UEFA president Michel Platini takes an oblique swipe at some of his colleagues and past colleagues on FIFA’s executive committee in an otherwise positive new-year message to European football.
The Frenchman describes 2011 as having “probably been one of the most contrasting and rich [years] in learning opportunities that I have experienced as president of UEFA.” He explains: “It has been one of those years where one feels the weight and magnitude of one’s responsibilities, but which equally serves to provide greater strength. Because, the just cause – however difficult it may be – is all the more obvious.”
Platini says that events of the past 12 months have illustrated that football is in need of “particular protection.”
He adds: “It has been a year in which certain of our national associations have had to take courageous decisions to preserve the justice and integrity of our sport. A year in which we have also had to remain solid and defend our values – sometimes alone – to guarantee the respecting of the rules and the equity of the competitions, and to prevent football becoming a hostage of a few for their own profit and interests.”
In what can only be seen as a critical glance at the causes of the leadership crisis within FIFA Platini says: “It has been a year in which, unfortunately and at the expense of certain agonies, football has emphasised its need for transparency and governance.”
His highlight of the year was the “exceptional” Champions League final at Wembley in which Barcelona beat Manchester United, a match which “reminded us why we are all here, at the service of football and the players, without whom nothing would be possible, and who make the dream possible.”
Platini looks forward to a “marvellous” 2012 with the finals of the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine andf the challenge of the introduction of financial fair play.
Optimistically, he considers the accountancy control to be “supported and carried forward by everyone, and which is a symbol of our unity and our capacity to assume our responsibilities together when it comes to preserving football.”