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 By Ian Holyman
May 20, 2014

Cantona hits out at Platini over protests

Protests have continued in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro just a month before the FIFA World Cup is due to start.

Eric Cantona has been quoted by Le Parisien as criticising Michel Platini for asking the Brazilian public to stop protesting during the World Cup and lambasting the choice of Qatar to host the 2022 finals.

UEFA president and a FIFA executive committee vice-president, Platini, 58, last month called on Brazilians demonstrating in protest at the cost of staging the World Cup to call off their action during the tournament, which gets under way on June 12.

Speaking at a showing of his new documentary, "Looking for Rio," which charts the development of some of Brazil's biggest clubs, Cantona, 47, said his fellow Frenchman's call for a tournament truce was unlikely to be heeded, Le Parisien reported.

"Platini expects the World Cup to go well, but people just need to be heard, and they will be heard thanks to the World Cup," the former Manchester United star told the audience at the Eden Theatre in La Ciotat.

"What they're asking for has been carried right around the world for several months now because of this event. That's a positive thing. Of course they are going to take advantage of the World Cup, they're not going to wait for it to be over, as Platini asks. That would be pointless."

Cantona also added his voice to the weight of opinion against the controversial decision to award the 2022 finals to Qatar, and suggested Platini's reported central role in helping the Gulf State win FIFA's vote could work against the UEFA boss should he decide to run against Sepp Blatter for the presidency of world football's governing body.

He said: "Speaking of Platini, it's about settling scores, a political war. He wants to be FIFA president, Blatter wants to remain it. Blatter has started to say, 'Qatar, it's true it's a bad idea, but it was Platini's idea.'

"Some people criticise the World Cup in Qatar, others the World Cup in Brazil. It's also Platini who gave the Under-21 European Championship to Israel, which is just as disrespectful in human rights terms as giving the World Cup to Qatar, given Israel's policy. He also gave the Euro to Ukraine, which was not an example of democracy.

"But they are emerging countries where there is lots of money. And the World Cup needs that. It's organised in countries that have the means. Tomorrow, it'll be China.

"That it happens in countries where it's important to develop football, that's a good thing. But in Qatar, there is absolutely nothing to develop, no potential. It's a small country in terms of population. The people are not at all interested in this sport, never will be."

Despite his criticism, the ex-Leeds United forward did state Platini would be the better alternative to become FIFA president.

"It's politics when you get to that level. Platini was a great player, he's a great man of football, but today, he's a politician just like the rest," said Cantona, who was part of Platini's squad during his spell in charge of the French national team between 1988 and 1992.

"On the other hand, it would be a good thing that, as they are all politicians, that a former player be elected head of FIFA. When you have to choose between the plague and cholera, it's better to get it from a doctor."

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