UEFA President Michel Platini has given his views on, among other things, financial fair play, third-party ownership and world football issues ahead of next week's XXXIX UEFA Congress in Vienna.
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Protecting the game, acting for the good of football and campaigning to eradicate negative influences that endanger the sport's well-being. UEFA President Michel Platini has taken time to share his philosophies and views with football fans ahead of next week's XXXIX UEFA Congress in Vienna.
For the interview, which appears from today on UEFA's official YouTube channel, the UEFA President addressed a variety of topics, including the UEFA Champions League, financial fair play and the future of UEFA, FIFA and football worldwide.
Mr Platini emphasised the key philosophy that underpins his everyday work on behalf of European football – the game always comes first. "
When I was a player, I always tried to defend the game, to defend 'we can play football', or 'we can enjoy football' or 'we can love football'," he said. "I have always followed this philosophy from when I was a player, to now, where I am in football administration. To protect the game is the most important thing to me."
Financial fair play
UEFA's financial fair play measures are designed to ensure the long-term stability of the game and curb the financial excesses that have brought some clubs to the edge of ruin. Mr Platini emphasised that the measures had total support, saying: "Financial fair play, to be clear, was the will of all the European clubs – all the European clubs. All the owners of the clubs, they came one day to say: 'Michel, it is not possible to pay so much money, we have to do something'.
"We decided [on] financial fair play, where the principle is, we can't spend more money than we generate. Now, the losses in European football are not €1.7 billion; they are €800 million. This means that we have made a great achievement with financial fair play, and we can be proud of that."
Turning to the third-party ownership of players, Michel Platini said that he had put considerable pressure on the world football body. "During the last FIFA Executive Committee meeting, FIFA accepted to completely stop such practices," he explained. "Today, it's shameful to see some players with one of their arms belonging to one person, a leg belonging to a funds pension located who knows where, and a third person owning his foot.
"That's shameful; we're dealing with a type of slavery that belongs to the past. Everyone earns money on such transfers, and while we are trying to find money to invest in football, that money goes in the pockets of I don't know who, and I don't know where. It's about time that the world of football wakes up, and that the money coming into football remains in football, and doesn't disappear."
The UEFA President also looked ahead to the forthcoming FIFA presidential election in May, and explained why he had decided last year against running as a candidate. "It was a very nice opportunity to open a debate for democratic reasons in the world of football, and FIFA needs new ideas, a new programme," he said. "There will be four candidates. Let's see what happens, let's see the programmes of the four candidates. But I think it's important for football that there is a change in FIFA.
"I didn't decide not to go to FIFA, but I decided to stay at UEFA; that is a totally different matter. And I'm very happy. The choice of my heart, the choice of my life, was to stay at UEFA, because we have so many things to do in Europe."
Mr Platini also took the opportunity to explain the decision-making process at the helm of European football. "I think the people in Europe, or in the world, think I take my decisions alone," he said. "But you have to understand one thing: I am very democratic and very transparent. I never take a decision alone without the support of the UEFA Executive Committee or with the UEFA Congress.
"I listen to everybody very carefully and I always take my decision, when it is necessary to take a decision, for the good of the game and for the good of football. Don't think I am despotic."