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Platini regrets Champions League dominance

Michel Platini says the “tremendous attention” given to the Champions League has led to the decline of other UEFA competitions.

Michel Platini says the “tremendous attention” given to the Champions League has led to the decline of other UEFA competitions.

The successor to the European Cup has developed into the world’s most lucrative club competition following the inception of its existing format in 1992, but arguably at the expense of the now-defunct Inter-Toto Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup.

The long-term future of the Europa League – formerly the UEFA Cup – has also come under scrutiny, but UEFA president Platini is desperate to see the secondary tournament return to its former glories.

“Lots of false information has been written. We have put only a few considerations under the microscope. At the moment, it is the will of almost everyone (at UEFA) not to change anything,” Platini told Bild.

“UEFA is extremely democratic. If we fail to reach an agreement, nothing is changed. The major associations such as Germany and Spain are no more powerful than Armenia or Georgia. All 53 organisations have the same rights.

“The Europa League is the trophy that belongs to the hearts of clubs all over Europe as anyone can win it.

“Other (European) competitions have been killed – destroyed even – by the tremendous attention given to the Champions League, but we want the Europa League to rise again.”

Platini, who has held the post of European football governing body chief since 2007, has been tipped to succeed FIFA president Sepp Blatter, but he remained coy on the matter, while explaining his decision to back Qatar as World Cup 2022 hosts.

“I must first think about that. It depends on whether I have the appetite for it. I still need a few more months to make a decision,” he said.

“(Blatter and I) share a good relationship, but we cannot always agree on certain things. Maybe in five per cent of all that is debated do we have differing opinions.

“I voted for Qatar and I would do so again. I made the decision for personal reasons, just as I voted for Russia 2018.

“I was the only one who had openly stated previously that both countries have never held a World Cup.

“I demand two conditions for Qatar: Firstly, the World Cup must be played in the winter, because of the climate. You can hardly play football in 40-degree heat and the fans would find it hard to bear.

“Secondly, the neighbouring emirates need to be involved so that the World Cup is taking place throughout the region.

“On the day that I would sell my vote, it would be very, very expensive (to buy) – I joke.”

Sat 2 March, 2013
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