UEFA president Michel Platini has hit out at FIFA counterpart Sepp Blatter’s criticism of the hosting concept for Euro 2020, stating that it amounts to an attack on the member associations of European football’s governing body.
Blatter last week criticised UEFA’s plan to stage Euro 2020 across multiple cities on the continent as removing the “heart and soul” of the competition. UEFA confirmed in January that Euro 2020 would be staged across 13 different cities in Europe as part of a major restructuring of the quadrennial national team tournament. The idea to spread the football tournament across Europe was first suggested by Platini in June 2012 after a lukewarm response to the governing body’s deadline for expressions of interest in hosting the tournament in its traditional manner. Speaking to German magazine Kicker, Platini stated the Euro 2020 decision was taken after thorough research and had the backing of the vast majority of UEFA members.
“At UEFA, all our major projects, such as Euro 2020 or financial fair play, are the fruit of extensive dialogue and a collective decision taken by all those involved,” said Platini. “I am not sure that this is how (former Libyan leader) Colonel Gaddafi did things. On the contrary, I think we are a model of what good governance should be. An attack on Euro 2020 may well be aimed at the UEFA president but, in fact, it is really an attack on 52 out of 53 European football associations. Everyone has the right to an opinion on UEFA projects. I have no problem with that, and I respect everyone’s opinion, including, of course, that of Mr Blatter, with whom – contrary to what I have read in some places – I get on perfectly well. Our relationship is intact, even though we obviously cannot always agree on everything. What I can say about Euro 2020 is simply that there was lengthy consultation with all those concerned, and that in the end, 52 of the 53 UEFA member association presidents enthusiastically supported this new concept, which will make Euro 2020 the first Euro with shared responsibility and solidarity – an innovative and visionary project in the eyes of many.”
Platini also responded to Blatter’s recent comments that UEFA was attempting to block some of his reform efforts for world football’s governing body. UEFA in January rejected a proposal to limit FIFA Executive Committee members to two four-year mandates and called for the president to serve for a maximum of 12 years instead of the eight proposed by the reform working group, the Independent Governance Committee. Platini said: “Ultimately, the European associations unanimously support over three-quarters of the reforms proposed by FIFA. The very few proposals that did not meet with unanimous support either had nothing to do with good governance (because they were to do with purely sports-political matters), or were simply not precise or clear enough. In any case, it is ridiculous to accuse the European associations of being conservative, because they themselves started this reform process and have also made numerous additional reform proposals.”