The fight against corruption, financial fair play, protecting football's essential values – all future priorities for UEFA and its President Michel Platini as he enters a second four-year term of office.
Mr Platini reflected on the tasks and activities to come after being re-elected by acclamation at Tuesday's XXXV Ordinary UEFA Congress in Paris. In his speech to Congress and in the aftermath, the Frenchman gave a comprehensive overview of what he feels are key concerns for European football's governing body in the coming period.
With corruption linked to betting activities considered as a considerable threat to football's soul and integrity, Mr Platini called for the authorities' help in combating the phenomenon. "We have our suspicions but we will give them to the justice authorities, because we are not policeman ourselves," he said.
"I also appeal to the players, because the players are the protectors of the game. It is they who play football, and it is they who should eventually inform us if people approach them to try and corrupt them. There is zero tolerance. The day that they are caught – players, referees, coaches, officials – they will be out of the game forever."
Another important project for the future will be the centralised sale of media rights for national-team qualifying matches. All 53 UEFA member associations had signed a mandate for UEFA to implement the move. "The project is a football project rather than a commercial project," explained UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino. "It is a football project to promote national team football and to bring it to the place it deserves – to do this, you have to have a concept, a brand, central marketing and sales in order to be able to present and prepare a product which has the appeal that national team football merits.
"Our way of working is to consult with everyone, and we have said that such a project can only succeed if all 53 national associations really agree. Just before the UEFA Executive Committee meeting [in Paris] we received the approval of the last association, so now we have all 53 national associations on board." Mr Platini emphasised that the support of the major national associations had been essential in bringing the project to a position where it could now be addressed at full speed.
UEFA's financial fair play measures are already being introduced to help safeguard the financial well-being of European club football and curb the excesses that have brought some clubs to the brink of disaster. Mr Platini promised firm action against those who do not comply with the measures.
"In 2014 we will take decisions," he said. "We will not go back. This year we have already taken five clubs out of the European competitions. In the future, the clubs that do not follow the rules will have to face the consequences. They will have been warned, because we will have given them four years to organise themselves."
Finally, Michel Platini assessed his first four years as UEFA President – and what the role means for him. "Everything functions in accordance with your age," he said. "If I was 20 years old, I would prefer to play football. If I was 35 I think I would prefer to be the French national team coach. At my age now, there remains nothing else but to be President! It is a route that is based on destiny, and football is the most popular sport in the world which has enabled me to climb each level.
"How do I see my second term? In football, with its infinite history, there are always things that come along. We have 53 countries with their very different characteristics, mentalities and football. I try to help people to defend their football. My role is to protect the game and develop the national associations' football – so that children will continue to play football in the future."
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