Uefa President Michel Platini renews call for sports police
Uefa president revives appeal for continental law enforcement agency in face of threats from match-fixing, doping, hooliganism and racism
Agencies in London
Uefa president Michel Platini renewed his call for the formation of a European sports police force yesterday, telling delegates at the opening of the Uefa Congress he was upset that his appeal for one had been ignored for six years.
"Six years ago now, in response to … problems of betting, corruption and match-fixing, as well as the problems of hooliganism and doping, I called for the establishment of a European sports police force," Platini said.
"There has been no response to those calls so far.
Given the absence of any reaction and the lack of awareness on the part of politicians, I renew that call today."
Platini's remarks came on the eve of the Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund at Wembley stadium today.
In addressing delegates from Uefa's 53 member nations, Platini said the issues of match-fixing and betting, discrimination and the financial troubles of many clubs were "poisoning football from within" and a sports police force would help the game to deal with its problems.
"If, by misfortune, this call again falls on deaf ears, I ask that each country, at the very least, adopts specific provisions of national legislation addressing the issue of match-fixing in order to finally have the legal tools necessary to rigorously punish these cheats," he added, saying only some 10 countries had already adopted measures.
"The main problem is match-fixing and betting," said Platini.
"Our match monitoring systems and network of integrity officers in each country are of course useful and even essential, but they are not enough.
"We are not dealing with petty criminals looking to make ends meet. It seems that we are in some cases dealing with mafia-type organisations that use some games, and therefore our sport, to launder dirty money.
"One game rigged is one match too many, as it strikes at the soul of our sport, the very essence of the game."
In other changes, the winners of the Europa League will automatically qualify for a place in the lucrative Champions League from 2015. Platini said the winners of the 2014-15 Europa League would play in the 2015-16 Champions League.
The move comes in a bid to boost the appeal of the second-tier tournament.
"As was proven with this year's magnificent final, the Uefa Europa League has gone from strength to strength, but we wanted to give clubs a further incentive, so that all of them play with a desire to win the competition," Platini said. "By guaranteeing access to the Uefa Champions League for the winners, we are convinced that the Uefa Europa League will increase its appeal for clubs and their supporters."
In his speech, Platini also tackled "the recurrent problem of discrimination, whether racial or sexual, which still exists in football." The French Uefa president also stressed the need for sanctions.
Platini also put Uefa's Financial Fair Play scheme in the spotlight and spoke of the worrying financial situation at certain clubs in Europe.
"To ensure that the current system doesn't collapse and the bubble doesn't burst, it is the duty of Uefa to intervene and it shall be the duty of independent bodies to punish the few clubs who have not realised that football cannot live above its means," he said.
Reuters, Agence France-Presse