UEFA President Platini highlights football's positive influence
UEFA president Michel Platini addressed many of UEFA’s chief concerns and highlighted football’s role as a unifying social force in a speech to the Committee of the Regions on Wednesday (15 April).
In addition, the UEFA president emphasised football’s massive popularity and its essential role as a unifying social force which had the power to break down barriers and bring people together.
The CoR is the political assembly giving regional and local levels a say in European Union policy development and legislation.
In his address, Mr Platini stressed the need for sport’s specificity and the autonomy of the sports federations to be recognised. “Only autonomous federations can guarantee the sporting movement the freedom and space it requires in relation to political requirements,” he said.
“The European sporting movement is structured around national associations which jointly elect the European ranks. As president of UEFA, I represent 53 national associations, which are structured themselves into regional committees and local bodies.
“The European institutions must, as a priority and without reservation, engage in dialogue with European sports federations which are democratically elected.”
The UEFA president underlined his support for the European sports model – “because it is perfectly adapted to our modern-day Europe”.
Violence, racism and xenophobia, Mr Platini said, existed in society and football was also affected by these negative phenomena. Nevertheless, progress had been made thanks to collaboration between UEFA, European institutions and national governments.
“We are on the right track, Not only is violence in decline in the major European competitions – we have just lived through two EURO [tournaments] in Portugal and Austria/Switzerland where there were practically no incidents.
“we have even arrived at the point where we can think in a sufficiently positive manner to transform these major football rendez-vous into tourist and cultural shop windows for the host cities.”
Mr Platini urged the European Union to protect minors – given the fate of many young footballers who left their home countries to join a club in return for payment, but who were then left with no schooling to fall back on if they did not make it.
Mr Platini closed by referring to Nelson Mandela’s philosophy that sport had the power to change the world because it has the power to inspire others, and could even be said to be stronger than politics or governments in breaking down racial barriers, and overcoming discrimination and prejudice.