Franchi memorial match

ACF Fiorentina will play FC Barcelona in honour of former UEFA President, Dr Artemio Franchi.

Dr Artemio Franchi (left) and for FIFA President João Havelange
Dr Artemio Franchi (left) and for FIFA President João Havelange ©ASL

A great European football administrator who died tragically early will be remembered in Italy this week. ACF Fiorentina meet FC Barcelona in a match played in honour of the former UEFA President Dr Artemio Franchi, who died 25 years ago in August.

Memorial match
The match is being played in the Florence stadium named after him with the patronage of UEFA, to commemorate the unforgotten sporting official. The Artemio Franchi memorial match will take place on 30 July in the presence of the UEFA Executive Committee and UEFA President Michel Platini. Dr Franchi guided football at the highest levels at national and international level covering among many, the duties of President of the FIGC, vice-president of FIFA and President of UEFA from 1973 to 1983 until his tragic death in an automobile accident on 12 August 1983.

Fair Play and anti-racism
The match will take place under the banners of fair play and anti-racism. These values are not only valid in the spirit of 2008, the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, but are also an expression of the union of intent that binds together UEFA and Fiorentina in promoting the culture of fair play and respect for the opponent. A few months ago, the President of Fiorentina, Andrea Della Valle, expressed to Mr Platini the desire to host an event in memory of Dr Franchi in Florence and obtained the approval of the entire UEFA Executive Committee soon after. "For Fiorentina it is an honour to be able to organise and host such an event in memory of Artemio Franchi," confirmed Mr Della Valle. Barcelona were happy to accept the invitation to take part in the match.

Football rise
Dr Franchi's rise through the football administration ranks began at Italian national level, first in the semi-professional game and then for the Italian National League, and he became president of the FIGC in 1967. He was Italian federation president from 1967 to 1976, and 1978 to 1980. He was involved in various UEFA committees from 1962, taking on tasks such as the organisation of the European Champion Clubs' Cup, refereeing or disciplinary matters. He was a UEFA vice-president by 1968, and in 1973, following the death the previous year of Gustav Wiederkehr, he ascended to the UEFA presidency upon his election at the Congress in Rome. Consequently he also became a vice-president of FIFA, having already served on the FIFA Technical committee.

Competition moderniser
In his work at international level, Dr Franchi contributed significantly to the modernisation of the UEFA competitions, especially by advocating a doubling of the number of finalist teams for the 1980 UEFA European Championship, played in Italy, to eight, and transforming the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup into the UEFA Cup. A skilled diplomat, and a man of culture and determination, he was tireless in his efforts to reduce violence in the game, as well as in his attention to the needs of young players, knowing the future of football largely depended upon the quality of the players of the next generation. He was fully aware, too, of the power that sport represented in society, especially football, and its ability to forge links between nations regardless of differences of race, language, religion or ideology.