UEFA President Michel Platini arrived in Malta on Saturday morning for a short visit.
On his arrival, he was greeted by Parliamentary Secretary for Youth and Sport Clyde Puli and MFA President Norman Darmanin Demajo. Platini was then transferred to Fgura where together with Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, he inaugurated the new Fgura United FC Football Ground.
The Fgura United complex includes a full-size pitch and a 5-a-side pitch and a club house with offices for administration, a hall and dressing rooms.
In the afternoon, Michel Platini addressed the media during a press conference at the Centenary Hall, Ta’ Qali.
The UEFA President said he was glad to be in Malta. He said he had promised Darmanin Demajo to visit Malta and witness some of the work being done by the association.
Referring to the opening of the Fgura United Football Ground, he said the associations have to work to help children grow in the game. While match fixing, doping and other such matters were important topics, the development of the game were of greater importance.
Asked about the alleged corruption case concerning the EURO 2008 qualifier between Norway and Malta, Platini said “the ball is in our court but the game is not over yet. The MFA President was clear in his statement four days ago. UEFA will investigate the case and then the Control and Disciplinary Body will take a decide.”
“UEFA has zero tolerance for players involved in match fixing because this is what kills football,” said the UEFA President.
Michel Platini said he did not agree with competitions reserved for the smaller countries. He said that for him there were no small countries as politically, within UEFA, all countries had the same strength. The UEFA President stressed for smaller countries to develop, they had to meet stronger countries. Such games also generated the necessary revenue which is of utmost importance for the smaller countries.
The Financial Fair Play is another important issue UEFA is focussing on. Platini said that soon after his election to the post of president, it was clear that a major concern were clubs’ financial problems. He said UEFA has not set rules for a better future.
“We want clubs to survive. It will take time to solve the issue but everyone is willing to do his part. We want clubs to break even within three years and then operate without any losses in the years to follow.”
The UEFA President admitted that he did not agree with the extensive use of technology in the game although referees do have problems. He said that everyone was aware that referee cannot see everything and the fact that there are scores to TV cameras in stadiums, mistakes were more evident than before.
“We experimented with five officials. Blatter, on the other hand, wants the use of technology. I think we have to go somewhere in between as the two are compatible. But if we start with technology how far should we go? Football has to stay human,” said Platini.
Finally speaking about the EURO 2012, the UEFA President said this tournament was a challenge for UEFA, Poland and Ukraine. He said Poland and Ukraine were doing their best and is sure the atmosphere will be beautiful and the tournament will be a success
Meanwhile Parliamentary Secretary for Youth and Sport Clyde Puli said it was an honour for the government and the sports community to have Michel Platini visiting the island.
He said the football ground which was inaugurated in Fgura was the fruit of sound collaboration between the government and the MFA with the full support of UEFA. He said that since 2008, 33 pitches have been completed and thanks to a €9 million agreement, works on another ninteen grounds will be completed in the next 15 months.
Clyde Puli said the government wants to show its gratitude towards UEFA for its assistance and expressed his satisfaction for UEFA’s decision to award Malta with the hosting of the UEFA Under-17 Championship final tournament in 2014.
The Parliamentary Secretary expressed the government’s full support to UEFA in the fight against match-fixing and corruption in football as it was of utmost important “to keep the game the beautiful game.”