UEFA chief Platini 'proud' of trouble-free Euro 2012

30 June 2012 02:17

UEFA president Michel Platini has expressed pride and satisfaction over the organisation of Euro 2012, ahead of Sunday's final in Kiev between Italy and holders Spain.

Build-up to the tournament was dogged by concerns over the readiness of Poland and Ukraine to co-host the competition, with particular anxiety expressed over Ukraine's infrastructure and the threat of fan violence.

However, apart from skirmishes between Russia and Poland fans prior to a group match in Warsaw and isolated incidents of racial abuse from supporters, the tournament has largely avoided controversy.

"The overwhelming feeling I have today is pride," Platini told journalists at a press conference in Kiev on Saturday.

"Pride for Poland and Ukraine, so often decried but who proved they were up to the task by putting on such a great tournament. And pride for the people of Poland and Ukraine, who were such wonderful hosts.

"Good luck, France (hosts of the European Championship in 2016), because the bar has been set very high."

Platini also expressed satisfaction with the extra goal-line referees, despite a high-profile blunder in Ukraine's 1-0 loss to England, when Marko Devic was denied a goal despite the ball clearly crossing the line.

"I know you will focus on the mistake, but the five-man refereeing system has been tested in over 1,000 matches without a single error," said the former France international.

UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino revealed that the organisation's executive committee have decided to officially recommend the adoption of the system, but it faces competition.

Rule-makers the International FA Board (IFAB) are scheduled to rule on goal-line technology trials in Zurich next week and Platini reiterated his opposition to the initiative.

"I am wholly against technology. But it's not goal-line technology -- I'm against technology coming into football to decide matches," he said.

"If tomorrow (in the final), someone stops the ball on the line with his hand, and the referee doesn't see it, two days later people will say that we need sensors to see if someone's handled the ball.

"In the match between England and Ukraine, there was a goal. It was a mistake; the referee didn't see it. But it was already offside, so do we need technology for offsides too?"

Concerning the fears of racism, Platini said the experiences of fans and journalists in Poland and Ukraine spoke for themselves.

"Everyone who was here to see can say that there have practically been no cases of racism in Poland and Ukraine," he said.

"Journalists can bear witness to this and the national associations of Poland and Ukraine can testify to this.

"Racism exists everywhere -- in Ukraine, Poland, France, England -- but we need to fight it. The European Championship will not change the world, but if we can help, we will."

UEFA's anti-racism stance appeared to be undermined, however, by an apparent inconsistency in fines issued for inappropriate behaviour.

Croatian fans were fined 80,000 euros (£100,000) for racially abusing Italy striker Mario Balotelli, but Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner received a 100,000 euros ($126,000) fine for displaying a sponsor's logo on his underpants.

Platini was asked to justify the disparity, but said the decision was nothing to do with him.

"You should ask the disciplinary commission, who are independent and who took the decision themselves," he said.

"I can do lots of things at UEFA but I can't interfere with their decisions. I can't say anything."

The Frenchman, a European champion with France in 1984, also made a shock announcement that UEFA's executive committee was considering a proposal for the 2020 European Championship to be hosted in cities right across the continent.

Source: AFP