John Yan: Platini’s style breaks down the Chinese walls 普拉蒂尼:中国足球必须依靠政府

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On the eve of November 11, the so called ‘Singles Day’ in Chinese internet language, two tired French gentlemen, dragging their luggage, took the shuttle bus from terminal 2 to terminal 3 in Beijing International Airport. Some passengers recognised that one of them was Michel Platini, and were astonished, others retorted that “How could the President of UEFA be getting on a shuttle bus in Beijing?”

But it was indeed Michel Platini, who had squeezed 36 hours into his busy schedule to accept an invitation from Netease Sport, and taking the opportunity to make the opening speech on the 2014 China Football Development Forum. He also promoted the Chinese language version of his new book, Parlons Football. The title means Let’s Talk Football, however, in Chinese, it was translated to Football In Suits, which originated from Platini’s own transition from a top footballer to an influential football politician.

During his visit, Beijing was in the whirlwind of the Apec conference, hence, Platini could only make a very low-key visit, having dinner with the head of the Chinese FA. His charismatic personality attracted a lot of praise from Chinese media and football industry people alike. By maintaining and approachable and populist profile, in marked contrast to past visits of FIFA officials, he won the respect of the people. And he was very straightforward in his opinions about almost all the hot issues, including reform in FIFA, the certainty that Qatar World Cup 2022 would ‘definitely be held in winter’, his White Card proposal, and his vision for European football in the future.

Although he denounced Sepp Blatter’s reign at FIFA, he said that he would not participate in the FIFA presidency election on 2015, in a tone resonant of Blatter himself, saying: ‘I’ve got unfinished business in UEFA.’ At the same time, he didn’t deny his ambitions for the FIFA post. In the open dialogue with Platini on the Forum, my last question was: ‘Who would be the president of FIFA on 2020?’ Platini hesitated and answered: ‘2020 would not be a president election year…’

Platini was keen to show his presence to Asian and Chinese football, to get to know more people here, but even so he knew that nobody could defeat Blatter in the 2015 election. But his second trip to China, no matter how short it was, made its mark, and Platini’s opinion on Chinese football development, created a resonance:

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“The governmental support, the political backup, would be vital for China football’s future. In a society like China, the government plays the biggest role, therefore, whether it is the strategy of development, or actual execution, football must be an important part of the government’s plan. I know that Mr. Xi Jinping is an avid football fan, that is a huge advantage, but China needs to transfer the leader’s interest into real executions in football development, only in this way, could you see some swift changes in China football,” said Platini

He explained that his opinions have been formed his own football development in the 70s. At that time, France football was not successful either, “but the French government got actively involved in football development, especially made all professional clubs to start their centers of excellence for youth talent development. That could be a useful example for China. And only through governmental policies, could we make it happen.”

Platini saw quite a lot of similarities in the Chinese and French societies, and his tone seemed to be more down to earth than other football leaders. Whether the CFA or higher government departments take his advice or not, Platini raised his profile during this 36 hour visit, through a profile-lowering way.

John Yan is Deputy Editor of Netease.com. Contact him at moc.l1532324914iamg@15323249148002g1532324914naiqn1532324914ay1532324914, or on weibo at:http://weibo.com/1646270104/profile?topnav=1&wvr=5

普拉蒂尼:中国足球必须依靠政府

“光棍节”这个夜晚,两个法国人出现在首都机场由T2前往T3的摆渡大巴上,拎着各自的行李,看上去很有些疲惫。大巴上有人认出了其中一位,”这不是普拉蒂尼吗?”但是又不太确定。米歇尔·普拉蒂尼是欧足联主席、国际足联副主席、八十年代前半段的世界头号球星、连续三届金球奖得主。他怎么会如此平民化地站在人群拥挤的大巴中?

这的确是普拉蒂尼,利用国际足联国家队比赛周的间歇,欧足联主席应网易门户邀请,来北京进行了一次三十六小时的旅行,出席”2014中国足球发展论坛”,也为了他那本刚出版的《穿西装的足球》新书做些推广。离开北京之前,他和同行的欧足联商务总监爱泼斯坦,还去了一趟CCTV,签订了2016欧洲杯和央视合作的转播计划。这三十六个小时,普拉蒂尼参加了半天的论坛、在”超级颜论”和央视接受两次长时间视频采访、到北理工大学出席新书推广会,还和中国足协的同行吃了顿饭,签名拍照数百次,工作效率之高,精力之旺盛,令人钦佩。

这只是普拉蒂尼第二次来到中国,上一次也是行迹匆匆,Apec期间来访,又是以非常低调的私人身份,和他近年来倡导的多项国际足球改革、卷入的多重国际足球风波,形象上有着很大差异。尤其是过去这半年,普拉蒂尼已经在明面上和现任国际足联主席布拉特对立,在所有的场合,他都公开声称,他”已经不再支持布拉特先生,因为国际足联需要新鲜力量”。

这股新鲜力量,如果理解为普拉蒂尼将入主国际足联的话,不会发生在2015这个国际足联主席换届选举年,因为78岁的瑞士人布拉特已经宣布,他会在2015年谋求连任。布拉特已经掌控着国际足联,尤其通过国际足联巨大收益,广散金元,持有的竞选票数,根本无人能对抗。普拉蒂尼锁定的目标,应该是布拉特下一任结束后。我在”2014中国足球发展论坛”上,公开采访普拉蒂尼,最后一个问题便是问他:”2020年,谁将会是国际足联主席?”普拉蒂尼很巧妙地回答说:”2020年不是国际足联主席换届选举年……”

他的这次来访,我们从2014年年初开始策划,在他一年行程安排中,只能找到这么三十六个小时的空档。普拉蒂尼是欧足联主席,亚洲和中国,并不是他的足球业务范围,然而利用这段国家队比赛周,先来中国,再去中东,普拉蒂尼的行为,当然是扩大自己在国际足球政坛的影响力,至少拉近和亚洲的距离——布拉特的足球势力,并不是来自他所在的欧洲,而更是亚非以及拉美的众多票数。国际足联总共有209个成员国和地区,一国或一地区的足球管理机构,在主席竞选中,都是一票。

只是和那些职业化的体育政客相比,球员背景的普拉蒂尼有着很多不同。他观点鲜明,言辞直接,外交辞令虽然精通,但敷衍推搪的表现并不多。这次来华,普拉蒂尼并没有明确的政治目的,甚至一种自我宣讲的标志化说辞也没有。他并不是来宣传自己”足球新思维”,也不是一定要争取中国的支持。他对中国足球有一定了解,关注的热情很高,所以分析起中国足球的挑战,普拉蒂尼的建议直接明了。

“必须要有政府的政治性支持,这是中国足球走出目前局面根本性的条件,”普拉蒂尼在论坛上说道,私下场合,他也多次强调自己的这种观点,”以中国的社会类型特点,政府所扮演的角色最为关键,政府必须要在战略设定和具体执行上,强力推行足球的普及和发展,这样才能为中国足球长久发展打下坚实基础。国家领导人和政府政要的喜好,必须转化成对足球发挥实际作用的执行方案,并且得到切实执行,才能够真正改变目前局面。”

普拉蒂尼如是说,和他自身经历有关。他和我对比过他青少年时代经历过的法国足球革新,七十年代的法国足球同样不够成功,”当时法国政府的积极介入,改变了法国足球的整体架构。人们看到的只是克莱方丹国家训练基地,实际上,法国政府要求所有的上两级职业俱乐部,必须成立自己的青训中心,必须保证每年青少年足球培训的人数以及选材执行,否则就要吊销这些职业俱乐部的运营执照。我们现在听到的,都是职业足球和青少年足球无关,但是在青少年足球发展遭遇挑战,而大量资金和社会资源又都在向职业足球集中时,职业足球一定得承担起很大一部分青训工作。这样的推动和监督,只有政府能做到。”

普拉蒂尼觉得,欧洲国家当中,法国和中国有很多相似处,政府扮演着更大的社会角色,社会资源高度集中现象显著。”足球是最简单但是也最复杂的运动,足球的发展,需要牵涉到最广泛的社会资源,同样也需要最全面的社会支持。现在大家讨论德国西班牙以及美国的青训成功,为他们的国家足球带来的帮助,但是不同社会类型里,解决方案的组成都是十分复杂的,不可能有包治一切的万能药。中国足球的未来成功,决定权在中国政府手里,至少在目前这个阶段。”

我很想知道普拉蒂尼和中国足协的同行晚宴上,是否也探讨了这样的话题,那是一个封闭晚宴,中国足协不允许外人参与。普拉蒂尼说,他自己的成长经历,就和七十年代法国政府力推足球,随即出现著名的”盖兰选材法”相关。这些建议和经验,不知道Apec期间乃至之后,会否有人听到。