UEFA president Platini re-elected unopposed

UEFA president Michel Platini speaks during a news conference after the 35th Ordinary UEFA Congress in Paris on Tuesday. (REUTERS)

Michel Platini was re-elected unopposed as president of European soccer’s governing body at the UEFA Congress on Tuesday while Fifa counterpart Sepp Blatter announced he would not stand again after 2015.

Platini, whose first four years were highlighted by the Financial Fair Play scheme designed to stop clubs from spending their way to oblivion, was the only candidate to register for the UEFA election before December’s deadline.
His term will expire in 2015 when Blatter, president of world soccer’s ruling body since 1998, will call it a day providing he beats Mohamed Bin Hammam in the presidential election this June.
Platini, re-elected by acclamation and visibly moved after being given a standing ovation, would not comment on whether he planned to run for Fifa presidency in 2015.
“Ask me in three years’ time,” he told reporters with a Gallic shrug.
The former France playmaker also declined to say whether he favoured Blatter or his Qatari opponent for the Fifa presidency.
UEFA, with 53 member associations out of 208, is a key player within world soccer’s ruling body with each national association having one vote in Fifa’s presidential election.
“I don’t control the European votes. We will see whether European football will support one or the other candidate,” said Platini.
“There are two candidates - I’m going to think about this, consult with my vice-presidents and the executive committee and see what position we will adopt.”
Four members of the UEFA executive committee were re-elected and were joined by three newcomers including former goalkeeper Borislav Mihaylov, the Bulgarian Football Union president who captained his country to the semi-finals of the 1994 World Cup.
Poland’s Grzegorz Lato, top-scorer at the 1974 World Cup with seven goals and president of the Polish federation since 2008, failed to get elected.
Platini promised to make international football his priority, saying he wa shocked to hear two unnamed players say during the 2010 World Cup they would prefer to win the Champions League.
He also announced UEFA members had agreed to a new system of centralised marketing of television rights for European Championship and World Cup qualifiers.
This would guarantee all federations a set income regardless of which teams they drew in their group.
The Frenchman also warned big-spending clubs they could be barred from European competition from 2014 if they failed to meet UEFA’s new rules banning them from spending more than their generated revenue.
“I will write a letter to all the European clubs telling them to watch out because in 2014 we will take decisions,” said Platini.
“They all agreed at the beginning, they will have to agree at the end as well. Football is magnificent, it is great, it has never been so beautiful in Europe but financially speaking it is driving itself against the wall.
“Two years ago I got the bull by the horns and I’m trying to help football to not go bankrupt,” Platini added.
He was equally tough on crowd violence in Eastern Europe, especially Serbia and Croatia who have been told they will be barred from European competition if they do not take steps to solve the problem by the end of the year.
“I’m sick of it, hooligans, vandalism, everything. I’m sick of the fact people can’t go safely to a stadium,” he said.
“If they don’t address the issue then we will exclude them from international competition. Our English friends were (once) suspended for five years, there will be zero tolerance.”
UEFA would also get tough on anyone who became involved in match-fixing which Platini has described as the biggest scourge facing football.
“Much will depend on the players. They are on the front line, they have to inform us of anything,” he said.
“There’s a recession, there are minor championships in countries where salaries are not high but zero tolerance applies to coaches, players and officials.
“They will be excluded for life.”
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