Michel Platini is making a fool of himself again this week after his tirade against the prominence of English teams in European football. If you caught his interview on Sky Sports, you wlll have seem him ramble on and on, venting his anger and seeming quite unfocused and unpresidential — especially for someone who is supposed to be the figurehead of UEFA.
Here are some of the idiotic statements he made:
“If you bring people from Qatar and there is no-one from Liverpool or Manchester at the club, where is Liverpool or Manchester? I think it is not good. I think the Qataris should invest in Qatar.”
Monsieur Platini, no one from Qatar owns Liverpool or Manchester City, and no one from Qatar has expressed interest in buying either club. Manchester City’s owners are from Abu Dhabi and Liverpool’s potential new owners are from Dubai. Both Dubai and Abu Dhabi are cities in the United Arab Emirates, not Qatar.
Besides, Platini may not have noticed yet, but Liverpool and Manchester City are already owned by foreigners — from the United States and UAE respectively. And before the Abu Dhabi United Group took over City, the owner was Thai.
The other disturbing thing about Platini’s quote is that he’s preaching isolationism. Qataris should only own teams in Qatar? What next? Outside of football, companies should only own businesses in their own country? What about French company Vivendi? Should they pull out of their 20% ownership of NBC Universal?
“Do you want in Liverpool an Arab sheikh as president with one Brazilian coach and nine or 11 African players? Where is Liverpool in that? We have to make some rules. What is football? Football is a game and this game has become popular because of the identity. You have to have identity, that is where football’s popularity lies.”
Platini is living in the past. If Rafa’s form with Liverpool went down the tubes, Liverpool fans would love to have a Brazilian coach, an Arab owner and nine or 11 African players — nine would be perfect along with local Liverpool heroes Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher.
What’s so different about that than what is already happening at Arsenal where Theo Walcott is the only English footballer playing regularly for the Gunner?
Football used to be a game that had an identity. The only identity that remains in football is at the international level. And even that identity has been lost somewhat with players being able to play for a country even if they weren’t born there but they have a great grandfather who came from that mother country.
“When you buy Ronaldo or Pele or Maradona or Robinho, I have no problem. But when you buy players at 13, 14 or 15 years, I don’t like that. One player aged 11 is coming from Marseille to Chelsea. For the mother you think that is good?”
The mother would actually be quite ecstatic especially if it means that her son would have a tremendous opportunity to become a millionaire, make his dreams come true and help support his family and parents. If Chelsea didn’t sign the player at 11, some other club would snap him up so why blame Chelsea?
The statements made this week by both Michel Platini and David Taylor illustrate UEFA’s deep frustration with Premier League clubs and how they want to limit their power. To me, this is too little too late from Platini. The balance of power has already shifted to England where the Premier League is the global league that’s watched by hundreds of millions of people each week, while UEFA only comes into the picture every few weeks for the Champions League and every four years for the European Championships.
I wonder if Platini would be so quick to criticize the top clubs in Europe if they weren’t English? Would he rant and rave as much if French football clubs were dominant again like they were in the mid-nineties when teams like Paris Saint Germain and Olympic Marseille did so well at home and abroad?
The best thing that Premier League clubs could do is simply ignore the raving lunatic, Michel Platini. Like EPL Talk reader Bishopville Red put it best, UEFA is writing its own obituary. Bishopville believes that UEFA’s actions this week will bring the concept of a European Super League into vogue. While that’s quite possible, I believe UEFA will be writing its own obituary when the Premier League decides to take the game global by playing league matches overseas.
By doing this, the Premier League will have set the precedent for other European leagues to follow suit such as La Liga and Serie A. At that point, what’s to stop a global super league from happening? Imagine Barcelona against Chelsea played in Hong Kong? Or, Liverpool against Real Madrid in New York City? The possibilities are endless.