Thursday,19 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1240, (2 - 8 April 2015)
Thursday,19 July, 2018
Issue 1240, (2 - 8 April 2015)

Ahram Weekly

More or less Europe

Platini and Blatter
Platini and Blatter
Al-Ahram Weekly

MICHEL Platini, a long-time vocal opponent of FIFA President Joseph Blatter, was confirmed as UEFA president for a third term during the ordinary congress.  Blatter praised the Frenchman for his impact on the game, adding: “I’d like to express thanks to UEFA and Platini for their remarkable contribution to football development.”

Platini has kept his place in charge of UEFA but has taken aim at his Swiss counterpart by insisting “we Europeans need more teams at World Cup 2018 — if we talk about the top 31 teams in the FIFA ranking system, then 19 are European”.

Blatter responded to Platini’s wishes for UEFA nations to get extra spots at future World Cups by insisting football no longer revolves around Europe.

Blatter is in the election race to preside over FIFA for a fifth term, something he insisted he would not do when he was re-elected in the role without competition in 2011.

Blatter took a swipe back at Platini by claiming it has been his career-long mission to take footballing dominance away from the grip of Europe.

“The world is no longer Eurocentric,” Blatter wrote in FIFA’s magazine The Weekly.“In my 40 years at FIFA I have regarded it as my most important task to lead football out of Europe. We have succeeded, but the process is not at an end yet.”

He addressed the European governing body ahead of his bid for re-election at the head of the world game at the 29 May poll, claiming that football must remain united in the face of calls from politicians and lawmakers for the finals in Russia and Qatar to be jettisoned over human rights issues and corruption claims.

Blatter said at a UEFA congress that snubbing Russia and Qatar should not be considered since such negative gestures never work. “It would be pointless to contemplate boycotting either of the next two World Cups.”

Blatter told the annual congress in Vienna: “Football should be united, sport should be united when it comes to boycotts. Boycotts have never had any results...”

“A World Cup in Russia will be able to stabilise all the situations in this region of Europe,” Blatter said recently at a FIFA press conference. “I am sure that football is stronger than any other movement.”

The continent had 13 teams at last year’s tournament in Brazil while there will be 14 at the 2018 event as Russia have been chosen as the hosts

UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino says that there is a “big chance” of Europe being awarded at least one more qualification place at future World Cups.

Infantino told reporters that he believes there should be a stronger European presence in World Cups given the success of Italy, Spain and Germany in the last three tournaments.

“I think there is a big chance that we have more than 13, because if you look at it objectively, based on facts, 19 of the top 32 ranked associations are European.

“The last three winners of the last three World Cups were three European teams, so I think it’s absolutely objective and fair to be asking for one more position only.

“We could ask for more than one, but one more would already be a good sign to the sporting merit, and at the end of the day to crown the world champion, we must have the best teams in the competition, so I think there’s a good chance there.”

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