Michel Platini: A Case Of Good Intentions But Flawed Fundamentals

The telegraph has a very interesting interview with the UEFA President. Anyone who talks about the game belonging to the fans and protecting clubs from debt and destruction certainly has the right intentions. Unfortunately, the approach he has taken to achieve these is fundamentally flawed.

Firstly, let me deal with the Arsenal side of the interview. I don’t think this particular interview is anti Arsenal per se. Have a look at the following part

“You have talent in England – it’s up to you not to buy always the best 13-14 young players in Europe,” said Platini, nodding at mention of Arsène Wenger’s recruitment of Cesc Fàbregas from Barcelona’s academy.

“… nodding at mention…”, It is the hack who brought Arsenal into the conversation. Once the topic was raised, Platini probably just continued talking about us as one example. We know that he has a particular dislike for Arsenal/Arsene but that is a separate issue and this interview certainly covers a much broader context.

If the journalist had asked Platini whether it was acceptable for Spanish clubs to sign young South American kids we might have known his true colors. It is down to the incompetence and sensationalist nature of the hack that he could mention Arsenal but not another club for comparison. Anyway, if the ban on transfers comes into place it will apply just as much to Barcelona as to Arsenal, so you cannot really say it is a crusade against Arsenal.

Let me clarify once again, I am not defending Platini or saying that he isn’t anti-Arsenal. I am just saying that this is a separate issue. The point here is much bigger and the ramifications much more serious for football in general. He gives some interesting examples

… in Germany where no foreign owner can have more than 50 per cent of shares in a club.

In France, the stadiums belong to the city, who decide what is good for them

I like the Barcelona model. The fans are the owners and you can never have a foreign owner. It’s great.

These examples are small parts of different socio-economic and sporting structures i.e. systems that govern football in that particular country. How do we decide which approach is the best? How do we decide whether different parts from various systems need to be sewn together to form the best structure? Essentially, the question is, what metric can we use to judge whether a system or part of a system is practical, just and sustainable?

Clearly, Platini uses nationalism as his metric. According to the French legend, clubs should be owned by citizens of the country where the club is, players should come from the country of the club and only a citizen should be appointed as the manager of the national team.

This strong sense of nationalism is also the fundamental flaw in Platini’s approach. In that sense he is the complete opposite of Arsene and this could be the reason for his antagonism towards Le Boss. The principle of nationalism raises many questions like,

  • Why should the games from one country be televised in another country?
  • Why should a player from one country be allowed to play in another country at any age?
  • Why should a club get sponsors from another country?
  • Why should the principle apply to nations and not cities? At what borders do we stop?

Unless the fundamental flaw in his thought process is challenged there won’t be any meaningful discussion. In my opinion, football is the single biggest unifier in the world. It brings people together like nothing else can. For instance, I am an Indian who is living in America and writing about an English club. I get readers from Singapore, Australia, Kenya, Norway, and pretty much everywhere in the world.

Can there be a better platform that spreads the message harmony and peace around the world? Can there be a better way to fight racism? How can fragmenting the game on national lines be a sound and justifiable approach? Arsene has repeatedly and clearly explained how this system harms the development of football as well, so I am not discussing that.

Platini wants to take the ownership to the fans and ensure that the businesses are well run. There is nothing wrong with the ends he is trying to achieve. But can these ends be achieved by rules determined by politics rather than reason? We all know that good intentions can wreck havoc when backed by flawed principles. Somebody has to remind him that he is a Frenchman.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité Monsieur Platini; Liberté, égalité, fraternité!

10 Responses to Michel Platini: A Case Of Good Intentions But Flawed Fundamentals

  1. Northbanker says:

    The German model of max 50% share ownership seems a good way of stopping Arab, American and Russian billionaires from putting our clubs on the brink of economic ruin.
    But I fail to see why Platini is so keen on the Barcelona model. Fair enough that the fans own the club but, Barcelona are the 3rd most indebted Spanish club in La Liga – £360m last I heard. Who’s gonna pay that off, the fans? Atletico Madrid owe £399m and Real Madrid top with £488m. Yet even with their huge debt, not a peep out of Platini when they upped the debt to buy Ronaldo and Kaka amongst others. A survey made by the Universitat de Barcelona estimated the accumulated debts of clubs in la Liga to be £2.5 billion. This represents 92% of their assets.
    Perhaps if Platini did something to stop clubs like Barca and Real from over inflating the transfer market then managers like Wenger wouldn’t need to go out and pluck youngsters from around Europe.
    As for his nationalistic view, Germany’s national socialist experiment in the 30’s didn’t end too well did it.

    • desigunner says:

      I think he is trying to bring some sort of a control on the finances. To be fair to him, towards the end he does talk about the Ronaldo transfer – “I said to Mr Perez: ‘Florentino, I don’t understand it, but if you have the money, I have no problem’.

      The thing is someone should bluntly put the question of the Spanish clubs and their issues in front of him. If he then tries to defend them, we can be certain he is very biased. He does give the impression that he is against the English league and Arsenal in particular, but it would be best to bring out the hypocrisy in the open.

      Thanks for the information on the survey. I will try to dig it up and write about it.

  2. simonobrien says:

    I think there is a point to Platini’s logic. Maybe it’s not about nationalism but giving local kids an opportunity to aspire to play for their clubs. The English league clubs are steeped in history, and while I love what Wenger has done at Arsenal, it’s not good to see 11 non-English players line out in front of 60,000 paying Londoners.

    Using rational thought, it seems best to find a compromise between fielding 11 trans-national players and 11 Londoners. I think you are sensationalising Platini’s approach. He does not want 11 Englishmen in England and 11 in France on every team. He just wants things to stay consistent from the past 40 years in Europe, where every Champions League winning side has had their local heroes. It would be a shame to see a squad win the CL and to say not one was even from the country. If Wenger can’t incorporate a few lads who the fans can associate coming from local grass roots football they maybe something should be drafted to give the academies some meaning. However the 6+5 rule would hurt the Premier League, as I said, a rational compromise.

    • desigunner says:

      I agree that there should be some local flavor to a team. But Wenger inherited a virtually non-existent youth set up and has done a good job of building it. If you look at the Arsenal youth teams, bulk of the players are local lads. If most of them cannot perform up to the high standard then they will not make it. You cannot blame a foreign lad for being better than a local lad.

      Moreover, the 90 minute limit doesn’t really help in finding good English talent. For a local lad to be a hero he has to have the talent and hard work of a hero. The point is, squads should be selected on merit even if you give more local lads a chance at the youth level.

      Platini’s plan is a little against a merit oriented system as it forces selections rather than letting the cream rise.

  3. Richard says:

    Francophone African countries are unlikely to win the World cup as most of their good players end up playing for France. How come Platini has failed to notice this imbalance? How many French players are indigenous French?

    80% have African roots. Why the fuss about Arsenal and English clubs signing young players from around the globe when France as a nation does exactly the same thing? Next thing you know, Madin Mohammed whose parents are from Algeria plays for France..

    Can someone ask Platini this question please.

  4. gooner ji says:

    The fact that Arsenal doesnt have many english players is because english players are always over priced. For example Vermaelen cost us around 11 million while Michael Turner went to Sunderland for 14 million. But with the advent of the youth setup, I think there will be a lot of english players in Arsenal.
    A good point is raised by Richard about the africanization of the French football team. It will be better for Platini if he does somthing for lifting up the pure french players.
    On another note, did anyone see Drogba’s dive on 91st minute. Now what will Platini do? I suspect he will not even notice it as he has good relations with Abrahmovic.

    • desigunner says:

      I agree about the over pricing in general but Pearson who has just taken over at Hull said that Turner was sold for 4 million.

      Didn’t watch the Chelsea game will check out the highlights

  5. […] Michel Platini: A Case Of Good Intentions But Flawed Fundamentals « Desi Gunner desigunner.wordpress.com/2009/11/03/michel-platini-a-case-of-good-intentions-but-flawed-fundamentals/ – view page – cached The telegraph has a very interesting interview with the UEFA President. Anyone who talks about the game belonging to the fans and protecting clubs from debt and destruction certainly has the right… Read moreThe telegraph has a very interesting interview with the UEFA President. Anyone who talks about the game belonging to the fans and protecting clubs from debt and destruction certainly has the right intentions. Unfortunately, the approach he has taken to achieve these is fundamentally flawed. Read less […]

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