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Michel Platini proud of UEFA's efforts


Great football on the pitch, historic decisions off it; UEFA President Michel Platini hails a successful season as he flies the flag for Financial Fair Play and action on match-fixing and discrimination.

UEFA President Michel Platini
UEFA President Michel Platini ©UEFA.com

UEFA.com: The curtains have just closed on another season. When you look back at the last ten months, what are some of the highlights?

Michel Platini: There was some fantastic football played this season and I believe fans around the world were very happy with what they saw. For example, just look at what happened in our club competition finals – there was so much drama as the titles of the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Women's Champions League were decided! Off the field, there were many challenges we had to face in order to improve and develop our beautiful game, and I am satisfied with what we have been able to achieve.

UEFA.com: One of those challenges was the implementation of Financial Fair Play rules. What is your assessment of the decisions made by the Club Financial Control Body (CFCB)?

Michel Platini: As you know, the process was always independent, meaning that I never interfered or intervened. I followed the work the CFCB was doing, and I am satisfied with the outcome. Overall, out of 237 clubs assessed, only nine did not comply with the Financial Fair Play regulations. Regarding that small group of clubs, they all accepted the measures that were applied and signed settlement agreements. The fact no one appealed those decisions is a strong indication that they were fair. Our objective was never to expel clubs from our competitions, but to help them improve their ability to compete at the highest level in a manner that is financially sustainable.

UEFA.com: What do you say to the critics of Financial Fair Play? Some have said that it is bad for football…

Michel Platini: I suggested the introduction of Financial Fair Play after many owners of European clubs asked me to do something to control the incredible amounts of money they were obliged to invest in order to be competitive. The situation was clearly spinning out of control, and that is why we set up the Club Financial Control Body and the Financial Fair Play rules to help monitor and improve the financial landscape in European football. This was done with everyone's support, from the clubs, to UEFA and of course to the European Commission.

I have to add that since the implementation of Financial Fair Play, there has been a huge decrease in overdue payables by European clubs, from €57m in June 2011 to €1.8m in September 2013. Regarding the total losses made by top-division clubs, these were also reduced from €1.7bn in 2011 to €1.1bn in 2012. We are on the right track.

UEFA.com: You said that introducing Financial Fair Play was an historic moment. There were others this year, for example the announcement of a new competition, the UEFA Nations League. What are your thoughts about the changes that are taking place in national team football in Europe?

Michel Platini: We have recently moved to centralise the rights for our national-team competitions. It all starts in September with the new week of football, which will see double headers of European Qualifiers being played across six days. This means more fans will see more teams in action. Regarding the Nations League, it is a way of increasing the competition between our member associations while decreasing the number of friendly dates. The format of the Nations League, which features promotion and relegation, will give more teams an opportunity to have something to fight for. I believe in it, and think it will be a success.

UEFA.com: A lot of changes have been made to the format of the UEFA European Championship. We will have 24 teams at UEFA EURO 2016 for the first time, and 13 cities in 13 different nations will host UEFA EURO 2020. Why were these decisions taken?

Michel Platini: Our aim is to develop football in Europe, and by expanding the European Championship, we will allow more nations to grow. If you take a look at the FIFA rankings, it is common to see at least 20 European teams in the top 30 in the world, so we will have a very strong tournament in 2016. As far as EURO 2020 is concerned, it will be beautiful to see the championship taking place in so many different countries with different cultures. It will be truly a EURO for Europe, and I am looking forward to the decision of the host cities in September.

UEFA.com: At the UEFA Congress in Astana, you talked about other projects that were important to you. It is clear that you are passionate about third-party ownership. What can you do about it?

Michel Platini: Today, there are many players owned by companies that are based in tax havens and controlled by some unknown agent or investment fund. Quite simply, some players are no longer in control of their own sporting careers, and are transferred each year to generate revenue for anonymous individuals. I am totally against this model, and I believe it can threaten the integrity of our competitions. FIFA says it is studying the issue, but if it does not decide, we will. We cannot accept that players are owned by financial institutions. UEFA will prohibit third-party ownership in its competitions in line with a clear mandate from its Executive Committee.

UEFA.com: Another season has passed where we saw players being racially abused on the field of play. Do you think enough is being done to combat discrimination in football?

Michel Platini: I cannot ignore the sad and disturbing incidents of discrimination which have occurred in some football stadiums in Europe in recent weeks. I was truly shocked and hurt to see players racially insulted and abused by supporters; these incidents cannot be tolerated and have no place in football or society. Football sees no colour. Football is a world where tones of skin are invisible under a shirt or jersey. Football is a place where players' political, religious and sexual profiles are respected. UEFA's statutes were recently amended to ensure that all our member associations adopt effective policies to eradicate all forms of discrimination, and we request that such guidelines be implemented, and that those responsible for acts of discrimination are punished.

UEFA.com: Recently, UEFA signed a memorandum of understanding with Europol to increase cooperation in the fight against match-fixing. How worried are you about this phenomenon?

Michel Platini: There is no question that match-fixing exists, and we have to be vigilant to make sure it does not affect our competitions. That is why our 54 member associations adopted an 11-point resolution at our Congress in March entitled 'European football united for the integrity of the game', aimed at tackling match-fixing and corruption. Of course we know that football authorities do not have the means to deal with this problem by themselves, so I am extremely happy to have the support of Europol.

We have to educate players and coaches about the possible approaches they could face by illegal betting syndicates and, most of all, we must have a zero-tolerance policy and ban anyone who is involved in match-fixing. We must protect our game and make sure it preserves its integrity. Football has to be transparent, and maintain the magic of being truly unpredictable.

UEFA.com: Goalline technology will be used at the FIFA World Cup. Do you see it as a possibility for UEFA competitions and maybe UEFA EURO 2016?

Michel Platini: So far we have decided not to use goalline technology in our club competitions, because it would cost many millions of euros, and we would rather use that money in grassroots projects. For UEFA EURO 2016, there is a chance we could use the technology, but always together with our additional assistant referees. This matter will be discussed by our Referees Committee, and then the UEFA Executive Committee will take the final decision. We have been very happy with the deployment of additional assistant referees, and believe it is the best way to minimise mistakes made in the key areas of the game.