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Platini re-elected as Blatter sits through criticism

25 March 2015, 10:26

Vienna - Michel Platini was re-elected unopposed for a third term as UEFA president at the annual Congress on Tuesday, proudly proclaiming European soccer's governing body to be "the best".

Sepp Blatter sat through the day-long proceedings as a guest and had to endure some stinging criticism from his challengers for the FIFA presidency who were invited to make presentations to delegates.

In many ways, the day summed up the differing fortunes between the sport's European and world governing bodies.

While UEFA has basked in the financial success of the Champions League, FIFA has been hit by a wave of corruption scandals over the last few years.

"We're transparent, we're democratic and we're the best," Platini told reporters. "We have shown that it is indeed possible to combine romanticism and realism, ideals and action."

UEFA have said they will not back Blatter when he stands for a fifth mandate on May 29, where he faces opposition from Luis Figo, Michael van Praag and Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein.

Frenchman Platini said there were no hard feelings against soccer's governing body.

"I have to say, however, we do love FIFA dearly. Europe's entire football community loves FIFA dearly. It is precisely because we love and respect it that we want it to be perfect."

However, that did not seem to be the case with Blatter's opponents.

"The current state of disarray asks for a change in leadership," said Dutch FA president van Praag in a stinging attack.

"It is the responsibility of our generation to clean up the mess.

"The beautiful heritage of international football has been tarnished by ever continuing accusations of corruption, bribery, nepotism and waste of money."

Blatter, who in his opening speech to the Congress had called for unity and reiterated that sport should not be used as a political tool, sat stony-faced throughout.

Despite the generally triumphant air, Platini warned that violence and racism were growing threats and European football risked a return to the dark days of the 1980s.

Also read: Spanish clubs to meet on TV rights strike action

To make his point, Platini invoked the Heysel stadium disaster where 39 people, mostly Italians, were killed when a wall collapsed after Liverpool fans charged Juventus supporters before the 1985 European Cup Final.

Platini played for Juventus on that day.

"In recent months, we have all been struck by certain images that I thought were a thing of the past. Some of us experienced that past at first hand. In my case, it was exactly 30 years ago," he said.

"I therefore renew my call for greater awareness of this issue among the public authorities, so that we can avoid reliving the dark days of a not-so-distant past -- a past where hooligans and all manner of fanatics called the shots in certain European stadiums."

In another move aimed at making UEFA more democratic, the Congress voted in principle to give seats on its executive committee to representatives of stakeholders such as players, clubs or leagues.

The details will be ironed out over the next year.

Former Croatia striker Davor Suker was among seven members elected to the executive committee where he will join three other ex-professionals including Platini.

- Reuters


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