Tag Archives: michel

Michel Platini: A summer World Cup in Qatar is not possible… it has to be staged during the winter

Platini: A summer World Cup in Qatar is
not possible… it HAS to be staged during
the winter

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

19:03 GMT, 20 March 2013

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UPDATED:

19:04 GMT, 20 March 2013

UEFA president Michel Platini has once again stressed his belief that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar must be held during the winter.

Platini echoed comments made by Britain's FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce yesterday that the searing heat in the Asian country will make playing football unbearable.

'In the summer, at 50 degrees, you can not possibly play football in Qatar,' Platini said in an interview with Germany's leading sports magazine Kicker.

Unconvinced: Michel Platini believes the 2022 World Cup cannot be played during the summer

Unconvinced: Michel Platini believes the 2022 World Cup cannot be played during the summer

This is not the first time the former France midfielder has stated his opposition to holding the Qatar tournament in the summer and he is supportive of a winter break for domestic championships.

Platini also responded to FIFA president Sepp Blatter's comments that the decision to stage Euro 2020 across the continent would rip the 'heart and soul' out of the tournament.

European football's governing body announced in December that it had taken the unprecedented step of hosting the event in several cities throughout Europe.

And Platini defended the decision, saying: 'The name European fits better than ever, as the Euros will be held for the first time in Europe.'

'Heart and soul': FIFA chief Sepp Blatter doesn't agree with Platini's plans for the Euros

'Heart and soul': FIFA chief Sepp Blatter doesn't agree with Platini's plans for the Euros

Michel Platini says 2022 World Cup in Qatar must be staged in winter

Qatar World Cup must be staged in the winter to protect players and fans, says Platini

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

11:49 GMT, 2 March 2013

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UPDATED:

11:49 GMT, 2 March 2013

Michel Platini says the 2022 World Cup in Qatar must be held during the winter to protect the players and fans from the searing desert heat.

Temperatures can exceed 40 degrees in the summer in the middle-eastern country, compared to a more comfortable 17 degrees in the winter.

The finals were controversially awarded to Qatar two years ago with Platini, the UEFA president, one of those who voted in their favour.

Winter World Cup: UEFA President Michel Platini says the 2022 tournament in Qatar must be staged in the winter months to protect players and fans from 40C temperatures

Winter World Cup: UEFA President Michel Platini says the 2022 tournament in Qatar must be staged in the winter months to protect players and fans from 40C temperatures

'I am in favour of Qatar under two conditions,' the former French star told Bild newspaper. 'Because of the heat the World Cup will need to be held in the winter.

'With over 40 degrees, playing football is impossible and for fans it would also be unbearable.

'Also, the neighbouring emirates must be included so that the World Cup is staged throughout the entire region.'

Grand designs: The proposed Al-Rayyan football stadium in Doha, to be built for the 2022 World Cup

Grand designs: The proposed Al-Rayyan football stadium in Doha, to be built for the 2022 World Cup

Spectacular: The Qatar University Stadium in Doha, another one of the proposed venues

Spectacular: The Qatar University Stadium in Doha, another one of the proposed venues

Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait are among the neighbouring countries that could be considered.

Platini's proposals will cause chaos to the regular football calendar, with six or seven weeks of disruption to domestic leagues.

Michel Platini: Match-fixing is football"s greatest threat – not racism

Match-fixing – not racism – is greatest threat to football, says Platini (who still wants World Cup 2022 to be moved to the winter)

PUBLISHED:

11:23 GMT, 22 January 2013

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UPDATED:

11:23 GMT, 22 January 2013

Michel Platini believes match-fixing poses the greatest threat to the future of football as the UEFA president reiterated his desire to switch the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to the winter.

While acknowledging the continued spectres of racism and violence, for the Frenchman throwing a game would sound the death knell for the game.

Making a stand: AC Milan midfielder Kevin Prince Boateng (C) left the playing field during a friendly against Pro Patria amid alleged racist chants earlier this month

Making a stand: AC Milan midfielder Kevin Prince Boateng (C) left the playing field during a friendly against Pro Patria amid alleged racist chants earlier this month

Concerns: UEFA president Michel Platini

Concerns: UEFA president Michel Platini

Speaking to French radio station RTL, Platini said: 'Racism and violence – it is a little beyond our control because it is not just about football but also affects the public.

'On the other hand we're directly concerned by match-fixing. For me, this is the greatest shame.

'If tomorrow, we'll see a game and we already know the result, football is dead.'

Football is waging an ongoing war against racism with Kevin-Prince Boateng recently making a stand by walking off the field with his AC team-mates against Pro Patria because of racist chanting.

Platini expressed his admiration, saying: 'It's great, I really liked it. It was very good, I also called to congratulate Milan.'

Speaking about his wish to reschedule the timing of the World Cup in 2022, the former France midfielder added: 'When I told the Emir of Qatar that I would vote for them, I told him two things.

'First, I would fight for it to be in winter.

'It's 50 degrees in the summer in Qatar. If we do not change the date, there are countries that will never receive the World Cup.'

Change the date: Platini wants the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to be moved to the winter

Change the date: Platini wants the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to be moved to the winter

David Luiz free-kick joins David Beckham and Roberto Carlos on list of greats

Bolt from the Blue! Luiz joins Becks, Carlos and co… but which free-kick is the best

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UPDATED:

18:04 GMT, 23 December 2012

David Luiz silenced Aston Villa this afternoon with a spectacular free-kick, bundling lightening precision, the perfect dip and total confidence into his execution.

Appearing to almost side-foot it over the wall and forcefully into the back of the net, Luiz’s free kick is a must-watch.

His technique and finish are likely to be talking points for the festive week’s highlights, but did it take our breath away in the same fashion as Roberto Carlos against France or Cristiano Ronaldo against Portsmouth

Here is Sportsmail's picks of the free kicks.

Bolt from the Blue: Luiz scored a stunning free-kick

Bolt from the Blue: Luiz scored a stunning free-kick

Roberto Carlos v France (Tournoi de France, 1997)

Possibly one of the greatest ever goals –
never mind free-kicks – Carlos’s heartbreaker against France prompted
endless scientific analysis to evaluate whether or not the stunning
outside-of-the-boot, left-footed rocket was a fluke.

Physicians
determined he meant it, the violent swerve into the net to bounce in off
the post and everything, so nobody questioned it ever again.

VIDEO: Bend it like Carlos…

Jose Luis Chilavert v Argentina (World Cup qualifier, 1996)

Unsurprisingly the only goalkeeper on our list, Jose Luis Chilavert’s beautiful dispatch against Argentina for Paraguay in 1996 is sublime – if not one for the purists.

Maybe it’s also the bulldog on his jersey, and his lack of goal celebration practice, which makes this so entertaining.

VIDEO: Forget the free-kick, check out the celebration!

Michel Platini v Spain (Euro 1984 Final)

If only his politics could be quite so direct. Platini at his peak was something else, and his free-kick against Spain in the final was near-perfect, and when goalkeeper Luis Arconda spilled his effort, all it took was for Bruno Bellone’s late chip to secure the trophy.

VIDEO: Platini heaps pain on Spain…

Cristiano Ronaldo v Portsmouth (Premier League, April 2008)

His look-at-me, screaming celebration was replicated on calendars, t-shirts, mugs, more t-shirts… You name it.

Nobody wanted to forget the incredible way this masterful player lined up his shot from 30 yards, lashing the ball into the very top corner, the fact it earned him a brace within three minutes or his victorious reaction.

VIDEO: Cris of death from Ronaldo…

David Beckham v Greece (World Cup qualifier, 2001)

Called upon to avoid a Greek tragedy at all costs, Beckham’s 30-yard free-kick will always have a place in the history books. Curling it lethally past Antonis Nikopolidis, Becks not only booked England into the 2002 World Cup, avoiding a play-off, but perhaps achieved the zenith of his amazing career.

When he finally calls time on football, this footage is guaranteed to appear over and over again.

VIDEO: Becks spares England from Greek tragedy…

Ken Bates programme notes: No mention of Chelsea but he blasts UEFA and FIFA

Leeds chief Bates snubs Chelsea in his programme notes… and blasts UEFA and FIFA's 'antics'

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UPDATED:

20:14 GMT, 19 December 2012

Leeds chairman Ken Bates has not mentioned Chelsea in his programme notes ahead of the sides' Capital One Cup clash.

Bates used to be the Blues' owner and in the build up to the game even described Wednesday night's clash as 'like getting a new Bentley with your mother-in-law in the passenger seat and watching it go over a cliff'.

He was at Stamford Bridge for 21 years before leaving in 2004, and taking over at Elland Road.

Strong words: Ken Bates is unimpressed with both UEFA and FIFA

Strong words: Ken Bates is unimpressed with both UEFA and FIFA

Instead of writing about his former
club he has blasted UEFA’s decision to spread Euro 2020 across different
countries and has suggested countries will be awarded matches in return
for votes in forthcoming elections.

UEFA president Michel Platini
confirmed recently that Euro 2020 will take place in more than one
venue, prompting fears that many fans will not be able to afford to
travel.

Writing in the
match programme ahead of his club’s Capital Cup tie against Chelsea,
Bates said: 'The antics of UEFA and FIFA continue unabated (no pun
intended).

Who are ya

Football fans often like asking their opponents the question 'who are ya' when they full well know who they are.

But both Leeds and Chelsea supporters would be entitled to look at this team-sheet handed out at Elland Road and wonder just who 'Marko Marvin' was.

Marko Marvin

German attacker Marko Marin admittedly
hasn't featured much for the Blues since his summer switch – but you
wouldn't have thought he'd been out for long enough for people to forget
his name.

'UEFA’s latest daft idea is that the European Nations Cup is played at venues throughout Europe.

'This could mean the games are staged at anywhere from Dublin to Moscow, Belgrade or even Jerusalem!

'The logistics of implementing this idea would be horrendous, least of all for the PBF (Poor Bloody Fans).

'The competition coincides with the height of the holiday season, which will put pressure on aircraft seat capacity, trains and hotel rooms, to say nothing of the cost involved.

'You can expect two or three small countries to get a venue, thus securing their votes in the next UEFA/FIFA elections.'

Bates also turned his attention to FIFA’s decision to award to 2022 World Cup finals to Qatar.

'There have always been suspicions about staging the World Cup in Qatar,' said Bates.

Shake on it: Rival managers Neil Warnock and Rafa Benitez exchange pleasantries before the game

Shake on it: Rival managers Neil Warnock and Rafa Benitez exchange pleasantries before the game

Daft! Bates' verdict on Michel Platini and UEFA's decision to host Euro 2020 across the continent

Daft! Bates' verdict on Michel Platini and UEFA's decision to host Euro 2020 across the continent

'(FIFA president) Sepp Blatter claimed the reason is by going to new countries it is spreading the word and helps take football to a much wider audience.

'But Australia, who lost out, has a much higher population of over 22 million, compared to Qatar, approximately 1.8m. The climate in Qatar in summer often exceeds 100F, but now there is the suggestion it be switched to winter.

'That’s nothing compared to the irreversible financial damage it would do to domestic football. This madness must be stopped in its tracks.

More reason for anger: Sepp Blatter and FIFA were also a target because of their decision to host the 2022 World Cup in Qatar

More reason for anger: Sepp Blatter and FIFA were also a target because of their decision to host the 2022 World Cup in Qatar

'The Association of European Leagues, the FAs and domestic leagues should join common cause and say enough is enough.

'If FIFA persists with this scheme they should collectively boycott the event and not make their players available. The ultimate sanction will be to resign from this incompetent organization and see it collapse.

'Both UEFA and FIFA speak with forked tongue. They say that clubs should reduce the size of domestic competitions to reduce players’ fatigue, at the same time increasing international fixtures includes fatuous friendlies, all for profit.'

Zlatan Ibrahimovic accused of stamping on opponent: Video

VIDEO: Ibrahimovic accused of stamping on opponent as PSG beat title rivals Lyon

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UPDATED:

16:59 GMT, 17 December 2012

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been accused of deliberately stamping on an opponent during Paris Saint-Germain's win over Ligue 1 rivals Lyon at the weekend.

Ibrahomovic appeared to be trying to jump over Dejan Lovren when his boot came down and caught the Lyon defender on the head and hand.

Scroll down for video

Zlat's got to hurt: Ibrahimovic has been accused of stamping on Lyon defender Dejan Lovren

Zlat's got to hurt: Ibrahimovic has been accused of stamping on Lyon defender Dejan Lovren

Lovren has said he will leave it up to the authorities to decide as Ibrahimovic was not punished by referee Antony Gautier.

'Everyone told me that he did it on purpose,' said Lovren. 'In any case I have a very bad headache. I think it is serious but it is for the commission to do its work.'

But Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas was in no doubt and he told L'Equipe: 'He did it voluntarily, I'm sure. I do not like to see this kind of act.'

Sweden international Ibrahimovic set up Blaise Matuidi for the winner as PSG hit the top of the table, above Lyon and Marseille on goal difference.

Watch video of Zlatan's 'stamp'

Michel Platini considers appeal against Serbia punishment for racism

Platini's not fine with Serb sanction! UEFA chief considering appeal against lenient punishment

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UPDATED:

23:55 GMT, 14 December 2012

UEFA president Michel Platini is considering an appeal against the fine administered to the Serbian FA after being embarrassed by his own disciplinary panel.

European football’s governing body were fiercely criticised on Thursday after only fining the Serbian FA’s 65,900 for the racist behaviour of their supporters during the Euro 2013 qualifier against England Under-21s in Krusevac eight weeks ago.

Platini is expected to make a final decision once he returns from the Club World Cup in Japan and read the full report into the game in Krusevac but the fact he is contemplating appeal shows he feels the UEFA’s Control and Disciplinary body were too lenient in tackling racism.

Too lenient: Michel Platini is considering an appeal against the weak sanctions

Too lenient: Michel Platini is considering an appeal against the weak sanctions

Abuse: Danny Rose claims to have been subjected to monkey chants

Abuse: Danny Rose claimed to have been subjected to monkey chants

The Football Association, who are
waiting to see whether they can appeal the suspensions that were given
to Steven Caulker and Tom Ince, were furious after the findings were
made public and their anger was mirrored throughout the English game.

PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor
said: ‘This is a totally inadequate fine which sends a very poor message
out to the football world.

‘I intend to write to Michel Platini
expressing our dissatisfaction and will be asking UEFA to exercise its
powers to appeal against the wholly disproportionate punishments imposed
against Serbia.

‘In addition, we will strongly support
the FA in their appeal against the decision to suspend Steven Caulker
and Thomas Ince.’

Caulker received a two-match ban, which puts his place
in next summer’s Under-21 European Championship in doubt, after being
caught up in a mass brawl and Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas
admitted the news had hit the central defender hard.

‘I am not sure if I am in the right
position to reveal the decision of another body, but probably the FA
will do that (appeal) – I think they are entitled to do it,’ said
Villas-Boas.

Anger: Rose reacts to the racist taunts

Anger: Rose reacts to the racist taunts

‘They have shown disappointment with
the decision and I think they are going to take it forward in various
different ways which I think should include trying to put right what is
wrong in Steven's sanction. It is a waiting game now what the FA
decides.

‘I spoke to the player him and he is
very, very disappointed. I spoke to Stuart Pearce, too. It’s difficult
to take after what I heard (happened at the Serbia game) from Steven,
Danny (Rose) and Adam Smith, and what they went through.’

Liverpool
manager Brendan Rodgers, whose midfielder Jordan Henderson captained
England in Krusevac, echoed those sentiments and expressed disbelief the
fine was 15,000 less than the one administered to Denmark striker
Nicklas Bendtner after he took part in ambush marketing.

Ugly: The end of England U21's win over Serbia was marred by clashes

Ugly: The end of England U21's win over Serbia was marred by clashes

‘I felt for all the England players
and staff who were there,’ said Rodgers. ‘It is bitterly disappointing
to say the least. But I also think it shows the remarkable progress that
has been made over the last 20 years here. UEFA gave a fine that is a
slap on the wrist.

‘The sanction is not too dissimilar to
someone showing a sponsor on a pair of pants. I thought it was poor
really. But it is up to them.’

Flashpoint: England striker Marvin Sordell in the tunnel

Flashpoint: England striker Marvin Sordell in the tunnel

QPR boss Harry Redknapp added: 'We've got
to stamp down heavily on any forms of racism in sport. There is no
place for that in any walk of life and I think they got off very
lightly, haven't they I don't think they really sent out the message
they should have sent out.’

Lord Herman Ouseley, chairman of Kick It
Out, has called for matches to be stopped if there is racist chanting
from the crowd. Ouseley, 67, stepped down from his position on the FA
Council on Friday because he believes football is taking a backward step
with regards to tackling racism.

That's pants: Denmark's striker Nicklas Bendtner was fined 80,000 for showing bookmakers' logo

That's pants: Denmark's striker Nicklas Bendtner was fined 80,000 for showing bookmakers' logo

Shocking: Rose was distressed after the ugly scenes marred the match

Shocking: Rose was distressed after the ugly scenes marred the match

The punishments as they stand

The Serbia Under 21 nation team ordered to play their next UEFA competition home match behind closed doors.The Football Association of Serbia was fined 80,000 euro.Serbia
fitness coach Andreja Milunovic was suspended from all football-related
activities for two years, the second of which is suspended for a
probationary period of three years. Serbia
assistant coach Predrag Katic was suspended from all football-related
activities for two years, the final six months of which are suspended
for a probationary period of three years. Serbia's Goran Causic suspended for four UEFA national team competition matches.Serbia's Ognjen Mudrinski suspended for three UEFA national team competition matches.Serbia's Filip Malbasic was suspended for three UEFA national team competition matches.Serbia's Nikola Ninkovic was suspended for two UEFA national team competition matches.The disciplinary proceedings opened against Serbia player Aleksandar Pantic were dismissed.The FA has received a warning for improper conduct by its team (more than five cautions).England's Steven Caulker suspended for two UEFA national team competition matches. England's Thomas Ince suspended for one UEFA national team competition match.

Martin Samuel: Has Platini just torpedoed European Football with his 2020 vision?

Has Platini just torpedoed European Football with his 2020 vision

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UPDATED:

23:12 GMT, 6 December 2012

It is not a grand plan. That’s the first thing you need to know. Michel Platini’s scheme to hawk the 2020 European Championship around the continent, a nomadic mish-mash of flights and fixtures, is not some brilliant idea he has spent years fine-tuning.

He couldn’t keep his mouth shut. That was the problem. The president torpedoed UEFA’s own bidding process for 2020 and was left with two choices: a co-hosting arrangement between Georgia and Azerbaijan, or potentially playing second fiddle to the Olympics in Turkey. Nobody else wanted to know.

So, UEFA’s executive committee developed a brilliant alternative with Platini’s guidance: a Euro for Europe.

All aboard: Michel Platini's bold vision for Euro 2020 has fired a torpedo into the heart of European Football

All aboard: Michel Platini's bold vision for Euro 2020 has fired a torpedo into the heart of European Football

Matches across the continent, fans scurrying from one country to the next at huge expense. How far, who knows Locations We’ll get back to you. A blueprint Now, where did I put that fag packet

The bidding to host the 2020 European Championship opened on March 21 with a final decision expected later next year or in early 2014.

So, plenty of time for executives to consider the available options, visit the sites, study infrastructure issues and factor in the needs of the fans.

Except on March 23, two days after a 20-month bidding process began, Platini announced he would be voting for Turkey. At that point, nine other bidders had shown interest: Germany, Holland, Belgium, Czech Republic/Slovakia, Azerbaijan/Georgia, Serbia/Croatia/Bosnia-Herzegovina, Romania/Bulgaria and Romania/Hungary.

Overnight, enthusiasm evaporated. As other countries did not fancy spending millions on a doomed campaign, host interest quickly dwindled.

Then Platini discovered that Turkey was also bidding to welcome the world to an Olympics in Istanbul in 2020, and were quite well fancied to succeed. Why this was a surprise, who knows

As a leading sports administrator it
shouldn’t really have escaped Platini’s attention that Istanbul had
also tried to host the Games in 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012. Maybe he
could have recalled the location of the 2005 Champions League final: the
Olympic Stadium, Istanbul.

Something funny going on: If only Platini hadn't let slip he'd vote for Turkey ...

Something funny going on: If only Platini hadn't let slip he'd vote for Turkey …

That Turkey’s constitution incorporates part of the Olympic charter was a sign they were keen on the idea, too.

Indeed, in accepting Istanbul’s candidacy, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge announced that only the Olympic aim, not the 2020 European Championship bid, had official backing from the Turkish government.

From that point, Platini’s baby was in trouble. The host application process closed on May 15. Panicking, with so few takers, Platini extended it.

No doubt he has spent the last six months trying to drum up interest, without success. Yesterday’s decision was the act of a desperate man.

That only Turkey opposed the scheme shows how spectacularly he has undermined the host process.

This Euro for Europe is said to be a
one-off. If it were a good idea, it would have been announced as a
permanent arrangement. It is a stopgap, a fudge, a face-saving exercise
for a clown who is on the brink of ruining what many regarded as the
greatest football tournament, better even than the Champions League or
World Cup.

Indeed if this were all a mad wager, a drunken bet struck after a night on the hard stuff, it would just about make sense.

Spanish style: The 2012 champions faced challenges in almost every game, something unlikely to happen when the tournament expands for France 2016

Spanish style: The 2012 champions faced challenges in almost every game, something unlikely to happen when the tournament expands for France 2016

Spanish style: The 2012 champions faced challenges in almost every game, something unlikely to happen when the tournament expands for France 2016

Platini meets a fan raving about the 16-team European Championship finals. Loving its intensity, its high standard, the immediacy of its challenge. It is bomb-proof, he says. Nobody, not even a complete idiot, could make it fail. Platini slams €10 on the counter, and eyes him blearily. ‘Wanna bet’ he says.

And here he comes now, riding a giant missile like Major Kong in the film Dr Strangelove into a tournament that was practically perfect before he arrived.

The next European Championship, in France in 2016, will be the first held to the format that is Platini’s other grand design: 24 qualified teams.

We all know the problem here. What made the old European Championship, the one that breathed its last in Kiev on July 1 with a magical performance from Spain, so wonderful was its streamlined quality. Every team was useful, each opponent a threat. Competitors hit the ground running, or were eliminated trying.

This summer, the first round of matches pitted England against France, Germany against Portugal and Spain against Italy. When Platini spoke of his expanded competition he flagged up names like Norway and Scotland as if these nations would be a positive addition.

Already, there are problems selling the television rights for the qualification process, because when almost half of Europe makes it through to the finals, the number of dead rubbers and pedestrian contests between nations whose route is as good as guaranteed will increase.

Steve McClaren’s woeful England would almost certainly have made it to the finals had the 2008 tournament featured 24 teams, meaning the Wembley loss to Croatia would have been met with a shrug.

Spare a thought: The 2020 format means more airports, more queues and greater expense for fans

Spare a thought: The 2020 format means more airports, more queues and greater expense for fans

Spare a thought: The 2020 format means more airports, more queues and greater expense for fans

There will be a lot of shrugging in 2016; probably until the competition eliminates eight of its 24 qualifiers — yes, it will be harder to get knocked out than go through — and so of the old urgency returns.

At least in 2016, though, fans will navigate one country, with a decent road and rail network, making for coherent travel plans. Add another four years and who knows where everyone will be. If it’s Tuesday it might be Reykjavik, Wednesday Rotterdam, Thursday Manchester, Friday Madrid.

There will be no sense of being at the hub of the action, just a long list of trains, boats and planes. Soulless airport lounges and dashes to the next destination.

Platini thinks the fans can exist on a diet of cheap flights and cheaper hotels, not that he will be in the bundle for boarding at Stansted too often.

Wherever the matches end up, you can guarantee Platini will be travelling in the style to which he is accustomed, untouched by his own lunacy or by the rotten idea generator that passes for insight in the offices of UEFA.

‘Some important decisions have been taken,’ said general secretary Gianni Infantino. Indeed they have. UEFA have decided you don’t matter; they have decided to sweep up the president’s mess yet again; and they have decided to ruin another edition of what was the greatest football tournament of them all. What wonderful decision- makers they are.

Wouldn’t it be amusing if the fans decided to leave them alone in the easyJet queue, to sit this one out by themselves

Roberto Mancini: Everton can qualify for Champions League

Everton can qualify for Champions League, says Mancini as City boss prepares for Toffees test

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UPDATED:

12:58 GMT, 30 November 2012

Roberto Mancini has backed in-form Everton to break up the established order at the top of the Barclays Premier League and force their way into next season's Champions League.

The Manchester City manager expects Chelsea to push his side and Manchester United for the title but believes Everton, rather than Arsenal, are in pole position for the fourth Champions' League place.

City have won only one of their last six meetings with Everton, and Mancini is predicting another tough test for the defending champions, when David Moyes' side visit The Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

In the mist: Manchester City squad Roberto Mancini puts his squad through their paces on Friday

In the mist: Manchester City squad Roberto Mancini puts his squad through their paces on Friday

'Last year, they were so-so, but I think Everton have started this season really well,' he said.

'They could end up with a Europa League place, but I actually believe they have the quality to finish fourth. They are a strong team with a strong future, so why not

'I think (facing) Everton is difficult for everyone, for us, for Manchester United, for Chelsea. Because every game they play against a top squad, they play very, very well. Every match we play against them, we have a problem.

Hats off: Mancini believes Everton can challenge the established top four

Hats off: Mancini believes Everton can challenge the established order

'I think that tomorrow will be the same. For the top team to beat Everton, it is difficult. They always play 100 per cent, and you beat them only if you play a fantastic game.'

Michel Platini's plans to expand the Champions' League brought a wry smile from Mancini, after he saw City crash out at the group stage last week.

'Maybe with 64 teams in the tournament, we could go through to the second stage, so I say “thank you, Platini”,' he grinned.

'But I think he talks about three years' time, so that is too late for us, unfortunately.'

For all the talk of this season's title campaign turning into a two-horse race between the two Manchester clubs, Mancini insisted Chelsea were also in the running.

'It is difficult to describe it that way, because the season is long, and in February, when the Champions' League starts again, everything can change,' he said.

'Who else can win it Chelsea, I think. 'In this moment, I think it is a three-horse race. But we have another 20-odd games to go. The finishing line is too far away to say. Last season, in six games, we recovered eight points. Teams like Tottenham and Arsenal can recover enough points in the next 20-plus games, but it is difficult to say this now.

'What matters is that we are entering a very big month. December is important, because we play so many games.'

Kolo Toure

Joe Hart

No ordinary Joe: Hart (right)

Mancini is still hoping to retain the services of Yaya and Kolo Toure in the New Year, rather than lose them to the African Cup of Nations.

'Will they go This is a good question,' he said. 'January could be important, if we have two or three players injured and don't have others who can come in, so I hope that maybe they don't go in this competition. 'We have talked about it, and we need to talk more with their manager, but it is difficult.'

James Milner has been ruled out and is a doubt for the derby meeting with United a week on Sunday after limping off with a hamstring injury at Wigan on Wednesday night.

Israel will be safer than London for European Under 21 championships – Shimon Peres

Israel will be safer than London, claims president ahead of U21 tournament

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UPDATED:

14:38 GMT, 29 November 2012

Despite the recent conflict with Palestine, Israel's President Shimon Peres has guaranteed that the European Under 21 championship in his country next year will be safer than if it was held in London.

Peres and UEFA President Michel Platini were adamant at a meeting on Thursday that having the tournament hosted by Israel next summer was the right choice.

Peres, who is confident the event will proceed smoothly, said: 'When you come in June, it will be more secure and tranquil than a football game in London.'

Hosts: Israeli President Shimon Peres (left) shakes hands with UEFA President Michel Platini in Jerusalem

Hosts: Israeli President Shimon Peres (left) shakes hands with UEFA President Michel Platini in Jerusalem

Israel-bound: England Under 21s qualified for next summer's tournament after beating Serbia in their tempestuous play-off

Israel-bound: England Under 21s qualified for next summer's tournament after beating Serbia in a play-off

Platini said he is proud that Israel is the host, despite receiving 'many letters' opposing Israel’s bid.

On Wednesday, the Frenchman attended the Under 21 draw in Tel Aviv and a Europa League game in Haifa to assuage skeptics after a bus bombing which wounded 27 people in Tel Aviv last week.

He said: 'We are very proud to come here. Football is a beautiful thing for peace.'