Preserving football's integrity

The sustainability and integrity of football were key UEFA concerns in 2012/13, President Michel Platini and the Executive Committee said in their report to the UEFA Congress.

UEFA's 54 member associations have adopted an 11-point resolution entitled 'European football united for the integrity of the game' aimed at tackling match-fixing and corruption, a step taken at the XXXVIII Ordinary UEFA Congress in Kazakhstan.

The sustainability of football and the preservation of the game's integrity were key concerns of UEFA during the 2012/13 period, UEFA President Michel Platini and the UEFA Executive Committee said in their report to the XXXVIII Ordinary UEFA Congress in Astana, Kazakhstan, on Thursday.

"Eradicating scourges such as racism and all kinds of discrimination, match-fixing and all forms of sports fraud, the excessive losses of certain clubs and the risk of unbalanced competitions is no easy task," the report said. "Better education, prevention and punishment are the main tools for combating these threats, against which the European football family must take a united stance.

At the end of the period under review two new members were elected to the Executive Committee at the UEFA Congress in London, bringing their knowledge, fresh blood and new ideas to the discussion table. "The Executive Committee has always endeavoured to foster a spirit of consultation, and to act in the general interest of UEFA's numerous components," the report emphasised. "It intends to continue along the same path in its new composition, for although enlightenment comes when ideas collide, harmony ensures balance and stability."

All of UEFA's various key activities are covered in the report, including financial fair play, which will be implemented in full from the 2014/15 season. "One of the 11 fundamental values adopted by the 2009 UEFA Congress in Copenhagen and treated as a top priority ever since, financial fair play is designed to safeguard the long-term future of the clubs involved in UEFA competition by helping them to protect themselves from or escape the spiralling debts into which European club football has fallen over the years, despite earnings continuously rising."

The report noted the widespread support given to the measures by clubs and European political authorities: "Current analysis confirms that the clubs are aware of the need to clean up their act and adhere to the basic principle of financial fair play: that they should not spend more than they earn."

Turning to match-fixing, the report highlighted its call in January 2013 for sports fraud in all its forms to be recognised as a criminal offence under national legislation, adding: "Once again, the Executive Committee stressed that the football authorities are not equipped to solve the problem of match-fixing on their own." The report also recalled that the committee adopted more stringent measures by approving changes to the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations which remove statutes of limitation for corruption or match-fixing offences and allow the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body to act if associations do not deal appropriately with actual or attempted match-fixing or corruption.

"The fight against doping also remains a priority for UEFA," the report underlined. During the period under review, for example, the Executive Committee approved the introduction of blood tests from 2013/14 as part of the regular UEFA anti-doping programme. Efforts to tackle supporter violence are ongoing: "UEFA did not hesitate, where necessary, to raise the issue with the political authorities of countries particularly affected by this problem."

The Executive Committee has also expressed concern about the increase in the number of disciplinary cases arising from UEFA competition matches, as well as the related increase in appeals against Control and Disciplinary Body decisions. "Between 1994/95 and 2011/12 the number of disciplinary cases shot up from 304 to 1,060, and the number of UEFA Appeals Body sessions more than quadrupled, rising from 12 to 53 over the same period."

UEFA continues to oppose third-party ownership of players. "The Executive Committee is of the opinion that this is not only unethical but also a threat to the integrity of competitions," the report said. With respect to racism: "The Executive Committee is determined to banish [it], if not from society as a whole, then at least from football stadiums," stressing UEFA's zero tolerance policy towards racism, reflected in harsher disciplinary action against those found guilty of such conduct.

In 2012/13, an innovative decision was taken to stage UEFA EURO 2020 in 13 cities across Europe, and the Executive Committee explained the rationale behind the move. "The project, which will give the competition an original touch for its 60th anniversary, appealed particularly to those national associations who lack the resources to host such a major event on their own, providing them with a unique opportunity to be part of the organisation of European football's flagship four-yearly national team tournament.

"The idea thus fits perfectly with the Executive Committee's desire to involve as many national associations as possible in the organisation of major UEFA events. It also clearly demonstrates that UEFA is anxious to adapt to the difficult economic circumstances in Europe by organising a competition with a global reach that takes society's priorities into account."

Other positive developments welcomed in the report include the continued healthy spirit of cooperation between UEFA and its national associations – an essential element of European football's success for six decades now – and encouraging dialogue with the European Union, with whom relations "remained positive and characterised by mutual understanding". This was demonstrated in April 2013 when Mr Platini met the president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso.

"The main topics discussed were financial fair play, the fight against match-fixing, international transfers, third-party ownership of players and UEFA EURO 2020," the report stated. "The talks showed that the EU and UEFA share similar views on all these subjects."

Top