Michel Platini - New UEFA President Seemingly Takes Aim at England
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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Michel Platini - New UEFA President Seemingly Takes Aim at England

england-soccer-ball.gifNewly elected UEFA president Michel Platini has big plans for Europe. Unfortunately, they are negative plans.

Starting with the Champions League and running all the way down through the domestic leagues, the former France international has ideas that would have ramifications all over the globe were he to get his way.

Taking a Champions League spot from England, Spain, and Italy is first on Platini's agenda. A mistake that will surely negatively impact those leagues, but also the Champions League itself.

Anyone waxing poetically about the romance the tournament could bring with lesser clubs should check the scoreline of matches in Group A of this year's competition.

Levski Sofia, champions of Bulgaria in 2006, lost all six matches in Group A, scoring 1 goal while allowing 17. A goal difference of -16. And anyone who watched those matches can testify, they were every bit as bad as the scorelines indicate. It was sad and unenjoyable.

While it is certainly good to have underdogs in the mix, it hardly seems wise to look for ways of adding more.

But underdogs from the "Big 3" are a completely different story. Liverpool finished the 2003-2004 English Premier League in 4th and won the 2004-2005 Champions League in stunning fashion.

And although Arsenal finished 2nd in the 2004-2005 EPL, they finished 4th in 2005-2006 as they came within 14 minutes of lifting the Champions League trophy.

This year's Champions League has seen all four teams from England win their groups to advance into the final 16.

Simply put: England deserves four spots.

Whether Spain and Italy deserve their 4th spot might be up for debate. Osasuna crashed out in preliminary qualifying for Spain. But Italian football supporters might argue the match-fixing scandal that sent Chievo over Fiorentina muddles the issue. Chievo went out before the Group Stages.

It has been reported that Platini will likely trot out the tired idea of limiting foreign players. Another ill-conceived notion that again seemingly targets England more than any other country.

Arsene Wenger's great quote from last year sums up this idea with little discussion: "This player's first touch is not good, yes, we know but he is English. What can I do?"

As simple as Wenger makes it, another, much more complex issue, is rarely mentioned in arguments against quotas. That is the possible negative impact on players from less-profitable markets.

On an individual level, it definitely seems like you would be taking the opportunity from players in, say, Argentina or Chile to make a hugely profitable jump across the Atlantic.

The result being that country of origin means having a greater right to more money, no matter your footballing skills.

Placing limits is a one-sided, European view of the quota issue and doesn't seem well thought-out.

Other pressing issues to be presented by Platini include player salary limits that are based on percentages of club "turnover." Not only a confusing proposal, but one that would seem entirely unenforceable.

And even though this idea would heavily affect football powers in Spain, Italy, and elsewhere, it again seems targeted at England, coming at a time when Chelsea is top of the heap in spending.

It all adds up to a hands-on approach to running UEFA.

Unfortunately, it seems more like a hands-on approach to running clubs in England, which is not UEFA's purpose.

More from other web sites (in a new window):
Platini elected as Uefa president - BBC
Ferguson warns new chief Platini - BBC
Fifa quota proposal angers Wenger - BBC - 4 Nov 2006

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