Say what you will about Maradona — he never put on a suit. Michel Platini on the other hand is on one hell of a roll at the moment.
Earlier this week, he went off Arsene Wenger as if the man had murdered half his family, instead of appointing youngters to play at the highest club level pupportedly ‘before their time.’
Now, he’s introduced us to a league named after the sixth moon of Jupiter, appropriate because both have the same relevance to fans of European football.
Listen to this exciting promotional double-speak: “The new name and logo will help underline the tournament’s special character and unique sporting appeal. The fresh format will encourage teams from emerging countries or lesser-known sides to challenge the old order, and the new identity will seek to reflect that.”
Ah yes, ‘challenge the old order,’ tapping into every football fan’s nascent, Leninist revolutionary leanings. It’s going to take a lot more to get fans interested in fixtures featuring clubs named after Soviet Rail factories or obscure Bulgarian cable networks than the prospect of hoping they overcome Euro ‘giants’ like Tottenham, or Aston Villa.
The cherry on top of all of this is UEFA’s atrocious decision to expand the Euros to twenty-four teams, as if deliberately undermining the success of Austria-Switzerland which most observers noted was entirely accidental i.e. in spite of UEFA’s constant meddling. Looks like they won’t make that mistake again.
What is most galling about all of this is UEFA’s refusal to acknowledge that these decisions are based on money rather than some sort of footballing pseduo-egalitarianism. It’s as if Platini wants to have his socialist cake and eat it too.
And it’s a fairly rich cake; Platini seems to have no problem railing at Wenger for being a ‘business man’ in the same week he pours money into a second-rate competition in the hopes that Europe’s lesser lights will take the bait and pay up. Having sat through the four and half trillion UEFA Cup fixtures last year, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve had enough of “the thrill of European club football,” as Platini put it. Many of us have had enough of football adminstrators as well.