UEFA President Michel Platini has visited Moscow, where he met Russian Football Union (RFS) president Nikolai Tolstykh for talks on developments in Russian and European football.
Mr Tolstykh, speaking at a press conference in the Russian capital, expressed his gratitude to Mr Platini for making the trip. "We informed Mr Platini about the state of Russian football, results reached and the main directions of the RFS's activities."
Mr Platini congratulated the RFS on its national team's qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and successes at youth level: Russia won the 2013 UEFA European Under-17 Championship in May. "Russia are the only state that are sure of taking part in the next two World Cups, in 2014 and 2018. That is a magnificent result," he said, referring to the fact Russia will host the 2018 World Cup. "I wish you luck in Brazil. I hope that a European team wins the trophy ... and maybe it will be Russia."
Mr Platini highlighted the fruitful cooperation between UEFA and the RFS. "We have formed good and close relations with the RFS," he said. "We are on the same page. UEFA works in the interests of all national associations, and we listen to their opinions. So you can see that Nikolai Tolstykh is also my boss! As two former players, we discussed football first of all. We are interested in its development and protection. As a player you can inspire, but as an administrator, you need to earn trust."
The UEFA President also spoke about UEFA EURO 2020. Russia has declared an interest in staging matches at the 'EURO for Europe' in seven years' time, with St Petersburg put forward as the potential Russian venue. "Thirty-two national associations have declared an interest in hosting UEFA EURO 2020 matches. Now we are going to collect their bid reports and the host cities will be officially named in September 2014," Mr Platini said.
"All the European national associations have shown support for the idea of a European Championship which is played in different countries. The main idea is to give them an opportunity to be involved in such a great event."
Mr Platini talked about the importance of UEFA's financial fair play (FFP) measures designed to stabilise clubs' financial management and safeguard European football's well-being, and welcomed the desire shown by the RFS and Russian clubs to implement FFP provisions successfully. He also emphasised UEFA's zero-tolerance stance against racism, and explained the tougher sanctions introduced by the European body vis-a-vis such conduct.
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