NYON: One of Michel Platini’s personal projects is being scrapped by European federation UEFA ahead of the Champions League Final in Cardiff on June 3 writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Platini had abandoned the pitch-stage presentation of the trophy at the end of the climactic European club duel in favour of a traditional, Wembley-style players’ parade up to the VIP box.
The Frenchman, subsequently banned by world federation FIFA for four years after a payment scandal, ascribed his preference to his childhood memories of watching “how a cup presentation should be done” through television coverage of the English FA Cup Final.
His presidential successor, Slovene lawyer Aleksander Ceferin, has now wiped out that particular Platini legacy and had the European federation reinstate the pitch presentation on a hastily-assembled mobile stage.
This means football’s dignitaries must go to the players rather than vice versa and will apply across all UEFA competitions – starting with next week’s Europa League final between Manchester United and Ajax in Stockholm next week (May 24).
Next will come the Women’s Champions League final at Cardiff City on June 1 then the Champions League showdown between holders Real Madrid and Juventus at the neighbouring Principality Stadium on June 3.
Ceferin said: “The pitch is the players’ stage and it is only fitting that their achievements are celebrated there. It also makes sense that the officials should come down from the stands to the players – to their arena – and pay tribute to them in presenting the trophy and medals on the playing surface.
“Players will also be able to celebrate with their team-mates on the pitch in full view of the fans without the interruption of having to climb up to the stands.
“Furthermore, all supporters will get a perfect view of the trophy lift wherever they are seated in the stadium.”
A UEFA statement added: “Assembling [the stages] will take less than five minutes. The return to on-pitch presentations will give all fans in the stadiums a better view of the trophy lifts, while the television audience will also get clearer pictures.”
Boston attorney Steve Gans is considering whether to challenge Sunil Gulati as the president of U.S. Soccer.Gulati has never been opposed in three elections that have occurred every four years since 2006. He is yet to confirm if he will run for a fourth term in 2018, which would be his last under new term limits he supported.And Gans told Soccer America that he believes the U.S. men’s national “has gone backwards” under Gulati and that he found it odd that no one has ever challenged the economics professor throughout his decade-long time in charge.”This is democracy,” Gans said. “This is America. For an organization this big, a $150 million organization, to never have a challenger, a fourth term without a challenger, is not good from a process perspective. For the good of the game, somebody should run. I think I should perhaps be that somebody.”Gulati is also a member of the powerful FIFA Council and played a visible role in the election of Gianni Infantino as FIFA president last year. Together with Mexico and Canada, he is heading a bid to bring the 2018 World Cup to the U.S.But in his interview with Soccer America, Gans pointed toward extending men’s coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s contract before the 2014 World Cup, and the women’s team public labor dispute as examples of Gulati’s failings.”You have to wonder why no one has ever opposed Sunil,” he said. I don’t think it’s because he’s doing such an excellent job. I get a lot of calls from people who are unhappy, so I am aware of some of the issues.”Gans previously worked for teams in the old NASL and indoor soccer’s MISL and is the founder of Professional Soccer Advisors, a group that represents European clubs in the U.S. He also assisted Boston’s local organizing committee for the 1994 World Cup.Before deciding on an official challenge, Gans said he wanted to wait at least two months to listen to different viewpoints on the issues facing U.S. Soccer.”In the interim period, I want to go on a listening tour,” he said. “I think I have some good ideas, but I am going to listen. I want to hear what the feedback is.”Follow @ESPNFC on Twitter to keep up with the latest football updates.COMMENTSAlex JimmyNot that I know anything about this guy, but competition is always good. I just have to believe that Gulati is like the rest of the Ex Co guys who have enjoyed their seat at the table for way too long. Not that he’s ever been implicated in any wrongdoing, but come on. Time for some new blood, whether it’s this lawyer or someone else.Kenny Padilla · Panther AcademySo, possibly moving on from a university economics professor with low-level soccer exposure and ineffective ideas on making the system work properly for this country, to an attorney who might know even less. GREAT path we’re taking guys! I’m so excited…Robert Weissman”Gans previously worked for teams in the old NASL and indoor soccer’s MISL and is the founder of Professional Soccer Advisors, a group that represents European clubs in the U.S. He also assisted Boston’s local organizing committee for the 1994 World Cup.”Justin HendersonNever understood why we have an Econ professor running US Soccer. An academic running an athletic program? No wonder we’ve taken a step back.