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With his consummate art of provocation, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a devotee of football, politics, ecology and puns, asserted three years ago in the columns of Profession Footballeur, the magazine of the UNFP (the French National Union of Professional Footballers), that 'Platini's a right-winger, but when he's talking about football he's thinking on the left…'

 

Right… left… Even though all of us have our own ideas, this cleavage is out of bounds inside a union, which by its very nature has to be independent and think only of defending the interests of its members.

 

Right… Left… Sure, in football, we know all about that. As Michel Platini once said, "It's better to have one good foot than two mediocre ones…" And the President of UEFA, ranked among the best players of all time, was right-footed.

 

He was a player. And he still is.

 

He has just scored a goal that will undoubtedly be remembered as one of his best ever. A goal that counts, that registers in people's minds, and that will go down in history. He's netted the ball from off the pitch, after long negotiations between UEFA, FIFPro (the International Federation of Professional Footballers, which backed the project), the ECA (the European Club Association), and the EPFL (the Association of European Professional Football Leagues), under the watchful eye and subject to the insistent demands of the European Commission…

 

If, in terms of social dialogue, FIFPro has always led the game and its debates, the agreement soon to be signed - which imposes Minimum Requirements for Standard Player Contracts covering all 53 of UEFA's member countries - is the fruit of a collective labour which, by making it possible to find a realistic balance between the interests of all concerned, has opened the way to social harmony.
Thus it is that, at the end of a collective operation inspired by FIFPro, this famous goal has been given the thumbs up. Would it have been so without the goal-scoring talent of Michel Platini?

 

This will also ring in the establishment of financial fair play, so dear to this former captain and selector for the French team. The beautiful idea, indispensable for the future of our sport, came up against the absence of a work contract for footballers in a great many European countries and the resulting impossibility to strike real equilibria and make significant comparisons between clubs. Tomorrow, when all European footballers will be properly paid, this barrier will fall as others have fallen, thanks to the efforts of FIFPro over recent years.

 

That it should be Michel Platini, a former player, who offers this new victory to the footballers' union is surely only a fair return.

 

The agreement obviously won't change anything in the daily lives of a certain number of European footballers. But we have to look beyond our own narrow interests, to understand that football, though it has specific national features, now sees itself on an international level.

 

We at FIFPro think the same way as Jacques Attali, the famous French intellectual who said: 'We have to care about the wellbeing of others, we have to ensure that others are not suffering, we have to work for the success of others, because we are one collective team.'

 

 

 

Philippe Piat
President of FIFPro Division Europe