One of the most popular symbols of Christmas is the tree, with its fairy lights and tinsel. Its traditional shape – with thicker, denser lower boughs tapering into a point with fewer branches – is reminiscent of the football pyramid, with its wide grassroots base and slender elite peak.
However, unlike the short-lived Christmas tree, football seeks durability and stability – of the Laws of the Game, of its competitions and structures – although at times, ensuring this perennial state can be something of a struggle, with threats on various fronts never far away.
Football has achieved its popularity and established itself thanks, in no small part, to the faith of its pioneers, who never stopped believing in their ideal. They managed to keep alight the flame they had lit and pass it on to us. Times have changed, as have the challenges we face, but our enthusiasm must be as strong as that of our predecessors' in order to fuel the flame of football and ensure that it burns brighter and longer than the lights on the Christmas tree.
On that note, I would like to take this opportunity to wish the entire football family and all its friends a very happy Christmas and New Year. Let us all resolve to keep the flame of football alive and burning bright in 2011. Even without any major international tournaments on the calendar, the year ahead is sure to provide us with no shortage of exciting football at all levels of the game.
This message from UEFA president Michel Platini features in the latest edition of UEFA•direct
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