By Andrew WarshawJanuary 28 - UEFA President Michel Platini (pictured right) has justified why he voted for Qatar to stage the 2022 World Cup, denying he was following instructions from French President Nicolas Sarkozy (left).
Published on Saturday, 28 January 2012 15:00
Platini, for all the good work he has done at the helm of European football, has come in for criticism over his decision to cast his vote towards the tiny Gulf state amid persistent reports he had been influenced by Sarkozy because of potential commercial spin-offs.
"I voted for a region that never received the World Cup, that was my philosophy, not because Sarkozy had lunch with me," Platini insisted.
"I have enough personality to decide what is good for football, not for the President of France or the Prime Minister of Great Britain, who also wanted my vote."
But, says Platini, because of the searing heat of June and July in Qatar he would favour a switch to the winter months despite the disruption to European calendar.
Qatar 2022 would have to request such a move to FIFA before it can be considered but Platini said: "The World Cup is the most important moment for the game every four years, but where does it say we always have to pay in June?
"I don't see the problem of playing in December."
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph
, he added: "What is the problem for the Premier League to finish at the end of May instead of the beginning, and recuperate the time in December?
"We have to put the World Cup and the fans first."
Platini, whose idea it was to bring in financial fair play, said the strict new rules were not designed to curb the spending excesses of the cash-rich English clubs but to help the entire football pyramid.
It has frequently been claimed that Platini is anti-English.
He certainly has strong opinions about the number of foreign owners and players in the Premier League but has always loved the atmosphere at English grounds and says it is a misconception to suggest he has a specific agenda.
"The message I want to send is that this is not an English problem," said Platini.
"This is not a question of wanting to kill the clubs in England or anywhere else, it is to help the clubs.
"This is about 53 national associations and we take the decisions for everyone.
"When we take a decision, of course there is a big media in England and so it gets a lot of attention, but this is about many clubs, from all over Europe."
Platini says football's financial responsibilities are no different to those of Governments.
"We cannot say that you can spend more money than you bring in," he said.
"It is just like the economy in Britain, in France, and in Italy, where the Governments have to tighten their belts.
"We have to do the same in football."
But he repeated his unease with the continued foreign player influx.
"Maybe it is because I am 56, and I played football in the 1970s and 1980s, but when we played, football was about identity of the club," he explained.
"Now the fans are the only identity, because the players, the coaches, the owners, they come and they go.
"I am not in favour of so many foreign owners.
"In Germany, they have a policy where clubs have to be 51 per cent German-owned.
"In Spain the owners are the fans, the socios.
"I like these systems.
"Perhaps the fans in England would like it too, but they have to buy the big clubs first."
Platini is expected to eventually replace FIFA President Sepp Blatter (pictured right) but says he will not even consider it until the time is right.
"The elections are not for four years," he said.
"I was elected for four years and I always respect my contract."
And Blatter, insists Platini, has had an unfair press when it comes to the recent corruption scandals enveloping FIFA.
"Perhaps people around FIFA are corrupted, but Blatter is honest," he insisted.
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