Football

UEFA's Platini says it's clear he's not popular

UEFA President Michel Platini believes he has made himself unpopular in some football circles by enforcing stricter punishments for clubs, but that it's a necessary consequence of trying to clean up the sport.

Platini, who is weighing up whether he has the support to seek the FIFA presidency in 2015, said Friday that penalizing clubs for racism, match-fixing and uncontrolled spending is key to ensuring that football is "free of cheating, violence or injustice."

Platini said in an end-of-year message that UEFA still must act "quicker and firmer," but highlighted how clubs are already being forced to play in empty stadiums to punish racism, and booted out of European competitions for financial mismanagement.

"All of these measures are not making us popular. That is patently clear," Platini said. "However, my aim is not to be popular. My aim is to be responsible. "It is a responsibility that I must take on, in order to ensure football's continued existence, as well as the future of our competitions."

Among the scourges tarnishing football's image, Platini highlighted match-fixing, the "extravagant" amounts middlemen are making on transfer deals, the trafficking of minors and the "violent or discriminatory excesses of extremist fringes which pollute the stands at certain stadiums."

The centerpiece of Platini's presidency has been championing "Financial Fair Play" rules compelling clubs to break even, and pay players wages and tax bills on time as a condition for playing in the Champions League or Europa League.

"We will be capable of taking measures which are imperative for football's well-being," Platini said in warning to clubs fearing being banned from European competitions. Addressing the mission he faces to clean up European football, Platini warned that the "morality of men leaves something to be desired."

"In recent months, football has not always projected the best possible image of itself," Platini added. "Practices which are morally reprehensible have persisted, despite efforts to eradicate them."

Rob Harris can be followed at www.twitter.com/RobHarris

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