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SBD Global/November 19, 2013/International Football

UEFA President Michel Platini's Push To Change The Face Of Int'l Football Examined

European football's "leading figures are weighing a series of radical proposals designed to transform international football," according to Kevin Palmer of ESPN. With declining attendance at many noncompetitive fixtures and the "relentless withdrawal" of star names from int'l get-togethers due to niggling "injuries," the game's decision-makers are "drawing up proposals to revive a part of the game that is in danger of losing its prominence." Friendly matches "have largely lost their lustre." The much-discussed and somewhat radical suggestions tabled by UEFA President Michel Platini "may have hogged many of the headlines in recent months, but the winds of change are gathering momentum." Many of the ideas being discussed "are at a formative stage, but others are already being implemented as international football prepares for its biggest shake-up in years." Platini's decision to transform the next European Championship finals into a 24-team event "has been welcomed" by national federations concerned that the 16-team format restricts opportunities for "non-elite" nations. With more countries involved, it means that increased lucrative TV revenues and sponsorship opportunities "should be created." Platini's plot to stage the Euro 2020 finals in 13 host cities "remains a little confusing." The idea is seemingly based around the notion that tournament atmosphere "will be generated by many supporters being able to watch their team in action on home soil in a major championship." Many "have questioned the wisdom," but Platini "has pushed it through and 39 cities in 32 countries have lodged bids to host matches." One revision to the int'l calendar is "certain to come into place next year, with qualifiers to be played across six days between Thursdays and Tuesdays in a bid to maximise TV coverage and broadcast income" (ESPN, 11/18).
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