NYON, Switzerland (AP) — Michel Platini has answered FIFA President Sepp Blatter's barbs over UEFA's plan to host the 2020 European Championship in 13 countries.
Blatter used an interview with German sports magazine Kicker last week to suggest the multinational project "lacks soul and heart" — seeming to be sparring ahead of the 2015 FIFA presidential election.
Platini responds in Kicker's edition being published on Thursday that the "innovative and visionary" hosting idea was agreed to by every UEFA member except Turkey. "An attack on Euro 2020 may well be aimed at the UEFA president, but in fact, it is really an attack on 52 out of 53 European football associations," Platini said.
Platini insists he has good relations with Blatter, who has been a long-time ally since they worked together helping to organize the 1998 World Cup in France. "I respect everyone's opinion, including, of course, that of Mr. Blatter, with whom — contrary to what I have read in some places — I get on perfectly well," Platini is quoted saying in Kicker.
Still, Blatter has voiced opposite opinions to Platini recently on several subjects, including goal-line technology, a Russian-Ukrainian league proposal, and whether Qatar could share the 2022 World Cup with Gulf neighbors.
Platini has long been seen as favorite to succeed Blatter, who promised at his 2011 re-election that he would step aside when his fourth four-year mandate ends. The FIFA president has increasingly dropped hints that he wants to stay on in 2015, when he would be 79.
The two will sit round the executive committee table on Thursday to discuss suggested reforms of FIFA. UEFA wants an age limit of 72 for candidates seeking election or appointment to FIFA positions, though it has faced criticism from an expert advisory panel that it imposed a unanimous declaration on all 53 members and is blocking key reforms on issues such as term limits and checking candidates for integrity.
"It is ridiculous to accuse the European associations of being conservative, because they themselves started this reform process and have also made numerous additional reform proposals," Platini told Kicker.
"For example, they want people who have been convicted of corruption to be ineligible to stand at FIFA elections, and want better control and transparency of the in-flow and out-flow of financial payments."