Platini is blind to the truth of football’s future
Michel Platini and charisma are like strawberries and cream: synonymous with one another. But after his recent comments, one wonders if Michel Platini and egomania would be a better fit.
Platini, a Frenchman and the head of UEFA – two reasons many don’t like him right off the bat – had the audacity to claim recently that his unpopularity in England could be attributed to the tabloid journalists that write about him.
Surely Platini isn’t so out of touch that he can’t see that the resentment towards him stems from a spate of negative comments on English football, including a reference to Chelsea and Manchester United as being “cheats”?
The man was a fantastic player.
A once-a-generation type, he was successful at both club and international level for well over a decade. He obviously made a lot of friends in the game, whom he used to help him oust Lenart Johansson to ascend the UEFA President’s throne.
But since then, he has since made a lot of foes amongst both football fans and media pundits alike.
Being the head of UEFA is in many ways even more powerful than the head of FIFA. With two huge competitions held annually in football’s heartland Europe, the money that they rake in is ridiculous.
While Blatter has had agendas since becoming president of FIFA – in many ways he got there as a mere puppet of Horst Dassler and João Havelange – he hasn’t been able to implement sweeping changes and most of his proposals have fallen at one hurdle or another.
Platini, on the other hand, while not being entirely effective, has been far more ambitious in what he wants to achieve with the power he has as he continually tries to force changes in European football.
The problem for many fans is that Platini’s proposals – no matter which way he spins them – seem anti-English and pro-French.
Having three English teams in the semi-finals of the Champions League two years running irked many on the continent, but it seems to have really gotten under the collar of the powers that be.
Amongst Platini’s proposals and supported reforms have been the 6+5 rule (even though the European Parliament has rejected it); caps on player wages; the prohibition of the transfer of players aged 18 and under; and stricter qualification rules for his prize asset, the Champions League, whereby only those teams operating within their own means (not having large debt against the club) would be eligible to compete.
Every single one of these proposals would fly in the face of how English clubs have become successful over the last decade.
Arsenal often field a side without an Englishman in the starting 11, therefore the 6+5 rule would be particularly difficult for them as their youth teams are generally filled with the finest talent from France, Spain and Africa while all the other Big 4 clubs have become increasing reliant on Continental Europe’s brightest talent to bolster their academies.
The capping of player wages would be a step back in time.
Rules existed up until the early 60s to cap player wages, until George Eastham took his case to court.
The judge ruled in his favour, stating that the cap was a “restraint of trade”. Almost 50 years on, it’s hard to see any judge coming to a different conclusion.
The mooted prohibition of youth players has been a particularly sore point, especially after Chelsea was hit with a transfer embargo a few months ago.
The Big 4 clubs have been raiding French clubs for their finest talent as they can offer higher wages at more prestigious clubs.
Platini feels it is harming the game in his homeland in particular, and no doubt many in Italy would agree where the current system allows young players as talented as ‘Kiko’ Macheda and Davide Petrucci to be poached by foreign clubs without them having to pay a realistic transfer fee.
Platini also has a bee in his bonnet about the amount of debt English clubs, in particular, have amassed.
Manchester United and Liverpool have generally been his two favourite examples. And while he has also mentioned Chelsea, he knows they have solid financial backing from Abramovich.
Perhaps all this goes back to English football’s darkest night, the 29th of May, 1985 when the tragedy of Heysel took place.
Platini scored a penalty to win the match 1-0 and briefly celebrated the goal, for which he was criticised in the English press.
It has been alleged that since that night, he has begrudged English football.
Whether it’s true or not, it seems Platini is hell-bent or wresting the power away from England.
It’s time Platini got out of Nyon, and had an open ear for some of the real problems in the game, rather than simply pushing on with his own agenda, pleasing his buddies and alienating those who fund his “product”.