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Mar 20, 2013

Platini defends Euro 2020 changes

Michel Platini has refuted FIFA president Sepp Blatter's assertion that holding the 2020 European Championships across the continent would produce a tournament "that lacks heart and soul".

The UEFA president insists that he is backed in his plans by the majority of his members and has had lengthy dialogue to confirm national football associations are happy with his radical redevelopment of the tournament.

The former France and Juventus player also played down any idea that he and Blatter did not get along simply because they share different viewpoints.

"At UEFA, all our major projects, such as Euro 2020 or financial fair play, are the fruit of extensive dialogue and a collective decision taken by all those involved," he told German magazine kicker in an interview to be published on Thursday.

"I am not sure that this is how (former Libyan leader) Colonel Gaddafi did things. On the contrary, I think we are a model of what good governance should be.

"An attack on Euro 2020 may well be aimed at the UEFA president but, in fact, it is really an attack on 52 out of 53 European football associations.

"Everyone has the right to an opinion on UEFA projects. I have no problem with that, and I respect everyone's opinion, including, of course, that of Mr Blatter, with whom - contrary to what I have read in some places - I get on perfectly well. Our relationship is intact, even though we obviously cannot always agree on everything.

"What I can say about Euro 2020 is simply that there was lengthy consultation with all those concerned, and that in the end, 52 of the 53 UEFA member association presidents enthusiastically supported this new concept, which will make Euro 2020 the first Euro with shared responsibility and solidarity - an innovative and visionary project in the eyes of many."

Platini also stood by his assertion that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar must be held during the winter.

FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce claimed on Monday that the searing heat in the Asian country would make playing football unbearable.

However, the idea of moving the tournament to the middle of the European domestic football season is a controversial one and has been widely criticised but Platini insists it is essential.

"In the summer, at 50 degrees, you cannot possibly play football in Qatar," he said.

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