Michel Platini urges players not to walk off the pitch if racially abused
The UEFA president insists the decision to stop a match rests with referees
The Frenchman also reiterates his stance against goal-line technology
Platini remains behind the Qatar World Cup in 2022 being played in winter
The head of European football has told players not to walk off the pitch if they are racially abused, saying any decision to stop a match should be left to the referee.
UEFA president Michel Platini’s comments come just one week after AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli, who was subjected to “monkey chants” in a recent match against Roma, told CNN he would leave the pitch if he was abused in future.
Balotelli’s teammate Kevin-Prince Boateng walked off the field during an exhibition match against a fourth division team in January and while Platini support’s Boateng’s decision, it is a situation he is keen not to see repeated.
“It’s not a matter for the player to regulate the game and to stop the game; it’s a matter for the referee,” Platini, who has been president of European football’s governing body since 2007, told CNN in an exclusive interview.
“It’s not normal that people in 2013 are being insulted about their color, about the difference of color. It’s not normal. It’s very tough for the player on the field.”
But Platini fears that if a team is “not happy” and is losing a match its players could decide to leave the field for reasons that might having nothing to do with racist abuse.
On Thursday, UEFA announced a raft of new racism regulations – part closures of stadiums, match abandonments and full stadium closures in the event of discriminatory chanting.
Clubs would be handed a fine of $65,000, a figure which has drawn criticism as being too meager for football teams which are multi-million dollar businesses.
But Platini defended the severity of that financial sanction.
“It’s not a question of money,” explained the Frenchman, who said clubs are often left in a difficult position when trying to deal with fans who attend games armed with political agendas.
In the past Platini has also faced criticism for his stance on goal-line technology (GLT), with the Frenchman often portrayed as a “luddite” for opposing the use of a system which FIFA has embraced.
GLT debuted at last year’s Club World Cup and is set for another run out in June’s FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil.
But the 57-year-old Platini defended his position, insisting money should be spent on developing the game at grassroots level rather than GLT.
“It will cost me $67 million to have GLT,” continued Platini, who was crowned European Footballer of the Year in 1984.
“I have to put it in all the games in the Champions League and all the games in the Europa League. I have to put it in Kazakhstan, in Manchester and in Turkey.
“It costs me $67 million, for one goal, two goals a year? I prefer to invest that for the use football in the grassroots.”
Championed as a possible successor to FIFA president Sepp Blatter at the next election in 2015, Platini would not be drawn on whether he has ambitions to succeed the 77-year-old Swiss.
“He will be 79,” said Platini. referring to how old Blatter will be at FIFA’s next presidential elections. “If he thinks it’s time to stop, it’s up to him.”
If Platini does succeed Blatter as head of football’s global governing body, one item on his agenda will be the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, particularly with regard to what time of the year that tournament should be staged.
Fears have been raised over playing the tournament in its usual June-July slot, which would see players compete in high temperatures.
Platini has long been an advocate of playing the tournament in the European winter, a proposal which has been met with staunch opposition as it would disrupt the traditional season for Europe’s major leagues.
“If I am president of FIFA or not president of FIFA,” declared Platini, “I will always support we have to play in winter.”