Euro 2012: The Last Real European Championships

June 9, 2012 in Euro 2012, Europe, International

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We fade in to a busy conference room, journalists of all European nationalities have packed the room to breaking point, all staring at an empty table at the front of the room, marked brazenly with the UEFA logo. All of a sudden, to the audible excitement of the room, MICHEL PLATINI, 50′s, living legend, enters the room with kind of grace and confidence that he showed in Euro 84 when he scored nine goals. He takes a seat, and looks to the room. 

MICHEL PLATINI

Hi, my name is Michel Platini and I scored nine goals in Euro 84.

JOURNALIST #1

Michel, we were wondering why you felt the need to expand the amount of tournament teams from 16 to 24 for the next competition. Did you feel something was lacking?

MICHEL PLATINI

We feel, as an organization, that nations like Norway, Scotland and Wales, these countries deserve to be there, and that Europe is strong enough to sustain the increase.

JOURNALIST #2

Hi Michel, big fan. Was just wondering what your opinion is on what status a tournament deserves to have when it makes qualifying for it 30% easier?

MICHEL PLATINI

We want it to be a celebration of European football in all its complexity and variety. Make sure no fans miss out on something like my nine goals in Euro 84.

JOURNALIST #1

Right, but by allowing eight teams that under the current system would be defined as not good enough to qualify, how are we not making the standard worse in the name of pleasing everyone?

MICHEL PLATINI

Look, when England didn’t qualify in 2008, all I heard was yap, yap, we invented football, yap. The Euros are supposed to be a coming together of the best teams. We just want to make sure that it can successfully be that.

JOURNALIST #2

By giving the so-called giants a safety net to cover for their incompetence?

MICHEL PLATINI

That’s not what we’re doing.

JOURNALIST #1

It seems like that’s what you’re doing.

MICHEL PLATINI

Nope.

JOURNALIST #2

Mr Platini, 16 and 32 teams in a tournament allow for a clear round robin structure to a final of 2 teams, but 24 does not. Do you have any ideas about how it will be structured?

MICHEL PLATINI

Come again?

JOURNALIST #2

How will it work?

MICHEL PLATINI

Look at my face. Does that look like my problem? We have nerds to take care of that.

JOURNALIST #2

But surely, sir, even a non-nerd can tell that this number of teams is going to make the format of the tournament needlessly complicated…

MICHEL PLATINI

Yes. But let me ask you a question. What has two thumbs, scored nine goals in Euro 84 and doesn’t give a crap?

JOURNALIST #1

Is it you?

MICHEL PLATINI

It’s me.

JOURNALIST #2

So you’re not even going to pretend this is a footballing decision?

MICHEL PLATINI

Here’s how it is. Football’s a business. We like to make money, and this ensures that every decent team that might have one famous player qualifies. Meaning Pepsi gets to put Eden Hazard on some cans, and even Steve McClaren can’t deny us one of our head-liners.

JOURNALIST #1

And you’re OK with this, prostituting the integrity of the tournament?

MICHEL PLATINI

Yep. I scored nine goals at Euro 84, and get paid millions every year to be a figurehead. I be rollin’ through streets of Paris with my hoes and my wheels and my money.

JOURNALIST #2

But haven’t you been trusted with something sacred here? Aren’t UEFA supposed to be the safeguards of the European game, making sure everything is best for it, as opposed to for themselves?

MICHEL PLATINI

Maybe in your commie paradise, Stalin.

JOURNALIST #1

And isn’t allowing so many lesser teams to participate in the final games going to deplete the value of those games?

MICHEL PLATINI

Hey, maybe we’ll get a few more 6-0′s this way. Everyone’s too good in the Euros, and we felt the tournament needs more of the archetypal Portugal vs. North Korea fixture. American and South Asian audiences won’t care unless there’s goals, goals, goals. Come on guys, we’ve got sticker albums to sell.

ANNOUNCER

Mr Platini will be taking no further questions, but has a closing statement on the issue.

MICHEL PLATINI

Ladies and gentlemen of the European press, I am at a loss. I don’t understand why you keep asking me questions that work under the assumption that we consider all the angles here at UEFA. Like any bureaucratic organizations, we just want to sell tickets. And whatever has to be done to sell those tickets, to you the people, but more importantly to McDonalds, to Gillette, to stock-holders and businessmen in shiny suits. It will be done. Sometimes that will coincide with what’s good for the game and sometimes it won’t.  And handicapping the Euros with more dead weight and twisting the structure all out of shape is far from the worst thing football’s government will do. Wait until Blatter tries to get rid of penalty shootouts. Bon-soir bitches.

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