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Platini wants to break UEFA so he can fix it

Photo from Wikipedia

Photo from Wikipedia

Michel Platini, the UEFA President, wants some dramatic changes in the rules governing club competitions in Europe (which includes Israel, Faroe Islands and some Central Asian nations). Oddly, he can not effect league play directly, but on the Champions League and Europa Cup. His wish though would be that if he implements changes in the CL and EC they would likely force change in league competition.

Part of the inspiration for the change is the David Beckham and Kaka saga's from the last transfer season.

Platini feels that the absurdly large transfer fee offered for Kaka is an example of excess that will hurt the smaller clubs and smaller nations. He even likens the transfer fee situation to some kind of slavery.

"How one guy can cost 150 million euro ($192.2 million) is ridiculous from a social, football and financial point of view," Platini said.

"If you want to buy a boat for 150 million or a plane you can do that, but for a man?

"That is bad and that is why we have to do something, to create a more equal playing field."

His feelings on short term loans are a little more reasonable.

"For me when you play for one club in a competition and then play for another in the same competition in the same season it is not ethical.

"I also think a player should play for at least a season, not three months. We'll speak about that at the next Fifa football committee."

So what are Platini's ideas to solve these "problems" well, they look a little similar to the financial and roster structures that Major League Soccer has used for 13 years. He has financial experts exploring Salary Caps, Debt Limitation and Roster Limitations. All of these seem like reasonable steps, if you feel that UEFA Champions League and Europa Cup are broken.

Of course, evidence is quite to the contrary if finances are a measure. Deloitte just released its review of the 2006/2007 season's revenue per club. Revenue for all of Europe was 13.6 Billion Euros, up an amazing one billion Euros in a single year. The five big leagues (England, Spain, Italy, Germany, France) topped 7 Billion. There are dozens of other nations in EUFA and yet more than half of revenue is from the very leagues that Platini wants to control.

On the club side the top 92 earning clubs brought in 2 Billion Euros. Those are the "problem" clubs in Platini's mind. The very clubs that have caused the European game to clearly and distinctly surpass all other leagues (including Brazil and Argentina) are the ones that he feels deserve some sort of control. Oddly in the more socialist (in structure and without negativity) Europe their soccer leagues are full on capitalist (same caveat). Yet here in America/Canada our league is quite socialist, in a much more capitalist nation.

Platini sees the MLS structure as part of the answer. He couldn't be more wrong. MLS was 19th in revenue according to the Deloitte report. That was below leagues like Turkey, Greece and second divisions in England, Italy and Germany. MLS has a league brought in barely more than an average EPL club at just under 200M US$.

Please Michel, break the European game over the next several years by instituting your more dramatic changes like a team salary cap based on team revenue (which actually would hurt smaller clubs more than the large), or a flat cap, or debt limitations (which would prevent a team like West Ham or Luton Town from existing). Go ahead and break the sport in its hotbeds of England, Spain, Italy, France and Germany so you can try to save it in Belgium and Ukraine.

As a fan of MLS I hope you do this, because it will help the stronger earning leagues outside of UEFA - FMF, J-League, Brazil, Argentina, MLS, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. These leagues could capitalize on the controls by offering players as much money as Europe if Platini gets his most dramatic changes.

As a fan of the World's Game I hope that the leagues and clubs of Europe reign Platini in and make the relatively small change of a roster limitation of 25 players on the Senior club. This would prevent a club from owning a player's rights for the mere purpose of blocking them from playing. Currently AC Milan has a former world player of the year riding the bench, West Ham had 40 players on their Senior club when they bought out Freddie Ljungberg and Freddy Adu isn't even playing in AS Monaco. A roster limitation would force General Managers, and equivalents, to better judge talent, to choose talent based on their ability to actually play and transfer off the players who aren't in the regular 18 on game day. This move would actually help the second tier leagues and teams as more players would be available for transfer during every window.

It would be a small correction that actually addresses the problem. But I will root for Platini breaking the European system, so that club football outside of Europe gets stronger, probably because I'm a little selfish.

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