Platini Misses The Point Again
Michel Platini is once more offering a charm offensive, seeking to make himself Monsieur Popular in his native country and with other bleeding hearts on the continent. Not so much charm directed at Arsenal, definitely offensive. According a Daily Telegraph, the erstwhile chief of UEFA has once more hit out at Arsene Wenger’s ignorance of passports when stockpiling talented youngsters in the Academy.
Problematically for Platini, he keeps rattling on about Cesc:
“You have talent in England – it’s up to you not to buy always the best 13-14 young players in Europe,” said Platini, nodding at mention of Arsène Wenger’s recruitment of Cesc Fàbregas from Barcelona’s academy.
Is it not time he took his head out of the sand and looked at the behaviour of suitors at all levels of the game? Barcelona’s manipulation of the media is open for all to see, frequently from the upper echelons of the Camp Nou, spreading downwards like a viral infection throughout the club.
There is an element of truth in what Platini says, protection and help needed by the youngsters preventing their exploitation yet in choosing Arsenal he misses the point somewhat. The Academy is bringing through significant numbers of English players at the same time, a distinctly different proposition to the public perception created by his ill-informed nonsense:
I am not in favour of the Arsenal system. The more English youth players you have in your team, the better it is for your football and popularity of your game. Perhaps, in the future with Fifa rules on the transfer of minors, you have to work with English youth. Why can’t the English play for Arsenal? They have to come to France to play.
Sorry who goes to France to play? The English? If he is aware of the numerous English players at French clubs, he had better be on the case of those in La Ligue whipping the cream of English talent. Unfortunately for Platini, the youngsters at Arsenal are very well paid. Extraordinarily so by comparison to those at other Premier League clubs. Exploitation? It appears to happen only when agents get their claws into players and their contracts, taking 20% for doing a job that a solicitor or accountant would do for a fraction of the cost.
Erroneously, Platini does not note the progress of Gibbs, Wilshere and others through the junior international ranks, citing only those brought into the club. The question he rightly raises though is whether or not English clubs have an obligation to nuture English talent. They do in some respects but they have a greater responsibility to themselves.
There is a balance to be struck. If football loses popularity, it is not going to be because of England. The clubs are doing a fine job of pricing themselves out of the leisure market through the cost of tickets. Exorbitant wages have to be paid for somehow and whilst broadcast revenues contribute, the supporter pays through the pocket. UEFA and FIFA would do better to direct their energies into making a global salary cap work and having the balls to punish the clubs which breach those rules harshly, no matter their status in the game. Too often privilege is bought though reputation.
Platini believes that bringing through English talent will make the game more popular here. He can start the process by ordering the FA to remove their protectionist policy on geography. As Wenger says, he can sign someone from Africa but not from Salford. Ludicrous and exposing the amateur nature of administration in a professional sport. Little wonder that club owners and executives rail constantly against the governing bodies and their collective ineptitude.
The suitability of the myriad of governing bodies controlling the amateur and professional games is exposed time and again. Surely the time has come for administrators to split the two bodies, allowing each to flourish within their own environments. Decisions taken at the highest levels, such as extra officials, have little relevance to those on Hackney Marshes; they have enough trouble getting officials as it is, let alone an extra couple each week.
The best service Platini, Blatter, Scudamore and co can do is to remain silent on subjects about which they have clearly not thought through. Unfortunately, their ego’s prevent them from doing so. In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.