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Old 09.20.2007, 10:28 AM   #92
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That could explain this too:

Gordon Brown has rejected a plea by UEFA president Michel Platini to become directly involved in battling "the influence of money" in football.Platini has written to all European heads of government as his "last hope for a healthy and balanced future of European football", calling for support to change the European Commission's rules on sport.

Brown however believes that the influx of money in football has brought many benefits and that it is up to the game's governing bodies to address Platini's concerns.

His tough stance is somewhat surprising given that Platini will be one of the key figures England need to have on their side for a successful bid for the 2018 World Cup - a campaign that Brown himself is very keen on.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: "Platini's letter has raised some important issues that fans care about and we do too. But these are matters for national football authorities to address and they should respond directly to fans' concerns. We will continue to encourage them to do so. The Government recognises and supports the autonomy of sport and its right to self-regulation. The running of football is down to the game's authorities and Government can assist when asked."

In his letter Platini expressed fears the prevalence of money could lead to a dangerous shift in traditional values.

He wrote: "A serious threat hangs over the development of European football: the malign and ever-present influence of money. Money has always been in sport and football has had a professional component for 150 years. 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."

Downing Street however argues that money is working its way down from the top.

The spokesperson added: "We believe that football can find a way forward. The recent Premier League broadcasting deal highlights this with money being split amongst the League's clubs as well as being redistributed to the grassroots. We have made great strides through the Football Foundation with funding from government, the Premier League and the FA supporting over 4,000 community projects worth over half a billion pounds in seven years. There is no doubt that the influx of money into football is a testament to its success and has brought many benefits. It, of course, brings challenges too and we welcome the ongoing constructive debate within the game."

There had been speculation that the new European Union Reform Treaty would give football's governing bodies more power to tackle inequalities in the game and the increase in foreign players. But Platini is upset that recommendations proposed by Portuguese minister Jose Luis Arnaut have been rejected in favour of a weaker version that could leave the sport open to legal challenges from clubs and players who do not agree with any tough new measures.

"This article doesn't go far enough to protect football from the rampant commercialism which assails on all sides," added Platini in his letter. "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. If I am turning to you, the heads of state of government, it is because you represent the last hope for a healthy and balanced future of European football."
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