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May 25, 2013

Platini frustrated by FIFA restrictions

UEFA president Michel Platini has told the Daily Mail of his frustration that goal-line officials "do nothing" because FIFA will not allow them to assist the referee.

Platini has been strongly opposed to the introduction of technology, variously arguing that it is too expensive and cannot address every type of refereeing injustice, and he remains adamant that stationing extra officials behind the goal is preferable.

In 2011, he suggested that FIFA president Sepp Blatter - who has strongly advocated the introduction of goal-line technology - might not support the use of additional assistant referees "because it's not his idea", and he has now said: "I can't do things that I want. If you think I can, it isn't true."

The extra assistants, whose role was approved by the International Football Association Board in July 2012, often have the best vantage point to make decisions in the penalty area but their ability to influence decisions has been heavily restricted by FIFA.

"The referee communicates, but FIFA cancels that," Platini said. "The officials are forbidden by FIFA to sign that it is a corner. He stands like this [puts arms straight down by his side]. He can move his feet only. He can't do nothing because he is forbidden by FIFA.

"Fans say: 'Look at these people, they are not moving, they are doing nothing, why are they here? They can't do this, they can't do that, they can't do nothing'. But they cannot communicate because they have not got the permit of FIFA to say something."

Meanwhile, Platini has defended his decision to vote for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup.

Asked in The Guardian whether it clashed with his personal mandate to steer football away from "ultra-commercialism", he said: "I have always to protect the football. All the decisions, they are for the good of football."

He stressed that, while he had controversially attended a lunch at the Elysée Palace with Nicolas Sarkozy and Qatari royalty, the then France president had not influenced his vote.

"He never asked me [to vote for Qatar], or to vote for Russia [for the 2018 World Cup]. He knows my personality. I always vote for what is good for football. Not for myself, not for France."

In the Daily Telegraph, he added: "It was: 'Okay, corruption, na na na'. I never voted for Qatar and Russia and asked for something back. Never. I voted for Qatar and Russia for the same reason: they are two parts of the world that had never received the World Cup.

"Qatar is logical. The Arabic people have run ten times for the World Cup and never received the World Cup. If you want to do something new you have go to Qatar. A World Cup in Qatar is good for the world. It is good for humanity. Qatar have some [controversial] rules, perhaps they are complicated, but perhaps they will change and will have more democracy."

He feels that moving the World Cup to the winter to avoid the extremes of climate in Qatar would be positive.

"If we can play in winter, it will be beautiful," he said. "I hope we will play in winter."

To do so would involve leagues changing their schedule, but Platini feels it would make sense for European countries to play football in the summer on a permanent basis.

"I don't know why we always play under the snow and when it is beautiful we never play," he said. "I totally agree with that [summer football]. I think it is a FIFA matter to discuss it. It is because of you, the English, that we play in winter. You decided: rugby and football in winter, cricket in the summer."

Platini also stated his belief that football is in a much healthier state than during his playing days, and that the shift away from hard tackling has allowed players like Lionel Messi to flourish.

"Football is far better now than in the '70s and '80s," he said in the Telegraph. "FIFA changed the rules to give more possibility to play football. Look at Lionel Messi. Nobody touches him. When Cruyff and Maradona played, the game was dirty. It was very dangerous for good players. People were so aggressive they tried to injure me. Every game. I tried to anticipate the foul. I jumped. Now good players can play.

"The standard is increasing because of better referees, better rules. When one guy is very dirty now, TV shows him all over the world, he gets a bad reputation, suspended for ten games because of the video. Football is so beautiful now."

In part because of the advantages such changes have allowed Messi, perhaps, Platini rejects the suggestion that the Barcelona star can be considered the best ever.

"The generation of today say 'Messi is the best player of all time'. No. They never see the past players. Each generation has his good player."

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