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Money men are spoiling football, warns Platini

19 September 2007 16:00

LONDON (AFP) - UEFA president Michel Platini has written letters to all European leaders asking for their help in saving football from the evil influence of money men whom he claims are ruining the modern game.

Platini's letter warns that football is at risk from businessman whose primary motive is profit and he calls on governments for their help as "the last hope for a healthy and balanced future of European football".

"A serious threat hangs over the development of European football: the malign and ever-present influence of money," wrote Platini in his letter which was reproduced in the Daily Telegraph on Wednesday.

"But money has never been the ultimate objective of football: the main purpose has always been to win trophies.

"For the first time we may be entering an era in which financial profit alone will be the measure of sporting success."

The comments from the 52-year-old French footballing legend, who took over as European football chief in January 2007, come as foreign ownership in the Premier League in particular is increasing.

A lucrative broadcast deal means that the professional game is also overflowing with cash.

Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov has recently increased his stake in Arsenal, while Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Portsmouth, Manchester City and West Ham have all been taken over by foreign owners.

Bolton, Derby, Blackburn, Fulham and Tottenham are also believed to be up for sale.

There had been speculation that the new European Union Reform Treaty might give football's governing bodies more power to tackle inequalities in the game as well as battling doping.

But Platini is upset that recommendations proposed by Portuguese minister Jose Luis Arnaut have been rejected in favour of a less strongly-worded article.

"This article doesn't go far enough to protect football from the rampant commercialism which assails on all sides," he complained.

"Millions of football fans, for whom I speak, are calling on Europe to do more to defend our football and the European sporting model based on financial solidarity between rich and poor, which is the only way to guarantee the values we cherish."

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