Michel Platini insisted he would continue to fight his ban from football as he made a controversial farewell address to UEFA before the European federation’s Athens congress elected Aleksander Ceferin as his presidential successor.
The 61-year-old Frenchman had failed in appeals to FIFA and to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in an attempt to overturn a ban from football imposed last December by the world federation’s ethics committee.
“It’s very emotional for me to be here,” said Platini. “This is my last speech to a UEFA Congress. I am certain not to have made any mistakes and I will continue to fight this [ban] in the courts.”
He then went on to talk about what he believed he had achieved and how he wanted to see UEFA go forward, whoever the national associations elected.
Platini recalled: “Simon Peres said ‘Jerusalem is a flame’, when he addressed our UEFA Congress in 2010. So also, for millions across the world, football is also a flame.
“You can play football anywhere. Football has become universal. We saw that at the recent Euros, that football is a party which brings people together in spite of the difficult security situation.
“Together we have done so much to keep that flame alive.”
Platini then turned to one of his particular concerns in maintaining a balance between the game and its business. This had been a live issue in the run-up to the election after the Champions League coup secured by the major clubs a fortnight ago.
He said: “We can be proud of what we have achieved but there is a long way to go and a lot we need to do to make sure that football stays the same one game.
“There isn’t one football of large globalised clubs and one of Sunday league players. It’s a single sport which belongs to each and every one of us so I encourage you today to keep that fight going for the health of football . . . We have to keep the balance between sporting reality and financial reality.”
Platini concluded by thanking the delegates for his nine years as president.
He said: “I think we did a great job and I hope you have enjoyed it and are proud of what we managed together – because I am proud and that is why I wanted to come and speak to you today to say goodbye in person and thank you.
“I would like to wish the new president every success. Friends of football, farewell.”