UEFA President Michel Platini has made an impassioned plea for the safeguarding of what he says are the values and specificity of football and sport.
In an address to the Council of Europe, Mr Platini expressed his concern that football's fundamental social and cultural values were coming under pressure from negative influences.
He called for preservation of what is known as the European sports model, based on elements such as financial solidarity and openness of competitions with promotion and relegation, and urged the Council to support a draft resolution on sport's specific nature and the European sports model.
“European sport has always been a powerful catalyst for social and cultural integration,” said Mr Platini.
“By virtue of my own origins I myself, like tens of millions of Europeans, am a product of this tremendous intermixing of peoples which has produced the Europe in which we live. I was shaped through and thanks to sport, and now I am trying to repay that debt by actively supporting these values that we hold dear.
“Two key aspects make the European model of sport both unique and completely fair: the financial solidarity between the different levels of European sport and the openness of competitions thanks to the system of promotion and relegation.
“Any attempt to undermine these two elements would sound the death knell of the fundamental relationship that exists between sport and society in our continent.”
Mr Platini also added that many social problems were reflected in sport, particularly football, since it is by far the most popular sport and attracts the most media attention.
In addition to violence, he said:
“Society has also passed other scourges on to the world of sport: money-laundering, match-fixing, illegal betting, racism and xenophobia, doping, child trafficking. The list is long but enables us to identify all the areas in which close cooperation between sports bodies and public authorities is both necessary and unavoidable.” Mr Platini reflected that if professional sport were treated as a kind of commercial activity like any other business, all sporting activity would ultimately be viewed through the
“terribly distorting prism of competition law.”