The week's events in Monaco marked the start of the 2012/13 European club competition season. In UEFA•direct, UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino looks ahead to the new term.
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Though a wonderful UEFA EURO 2012 is barely over and still fresh in our memories, the pulse of football continues to beat strong. A new club competition season, heralding the start of a new three-year cycle, is already upon us, guaranteeing that we ardent football fans do not have to go too long without our regular fix of passion and emotion.
This new season is a milestone for the UEFA administration, as we have brought our match operation activities in-house. This was the ideal opportunity to take stock and rework many of our procedures with a view to further consolidating our activities and ensuring the best possible allocation of our resources among the 80 different venues that will host the 350 UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League matches this term. Everything has been planned with great care, our teams have received intensive training, and it is now time to see in the stadiums whether we are on the right track – a moment that is both slightly daunting and exciting.
This new cycle will also see the continuation of our financial fair play policy which, we firmly believe, is crucial for safeguarding European club football. On top of the support of the football family, our financial fair play rules have received the backing of the European Commission, which confirmed their conformity with European Union (EU) law.
Furthermore, to make sure that all cases are dealt with to the highest legal standards, the UEFA Club Financial Control Panel has been upgraded to a statutory organ for the administration of justice, and renamed the UEFA Club Financial Control Body. This new organ is divided into an investigatory chamber, led by former Belgian Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene as chief investigator, and an adjudicatory chamber, led by the chairman of the Club Financial Control Body, José Narciso da Cunha Rodrigues, former general prosecutor of Portugal and judge at the Court of Justice of the EU since 2000.
Financial fair play and match operations not only contribute to the smooth running of our club competitions, but they have something else in common: if they are not mentioned, it means all is well. So let us hope this here is one of the rare occasions they attract attention this season, and that for the rest of the time the spotlight remains firmly focused on the players on the pitch.