The Michel Platini juggernaut seems unstoppable

In the absence of a credible challenger to Michel Platini, the Uefa president is on course to become football’s most powerful man.

The Platini bandwagon rolls inexorably on, and with many of the federations backing him, there seems no way he can be prevented from following the disgraced Sepp Blatter into the FIFA presidency next February.

That the Football Association are ineptly and inadequately in his corner won’t in the last analysis make any difference to the final voting, but it is yet another bleak example of how wretchedly the English game is being led.

Harken to the words of the misguided Greg Dyke, alas the top banana at the FA: “We support Michel Platini’s candidacy. To have a good relationship with him and hope he can gain the necessary global backing to lead a new FIFA during the most difficult period in its history… Mr Platini has always made it very clear that he voted for Qatar. If all the other people who voted for Qatar had been quite as transparent it would have been more helpful.”

The mind boggled. Platini as alas we know twice supported Qatar, once in the original vote for the 2020 World Cup locale, again when, given the appalling 50 degrees centigrade Qatar conditions. Which didn’t seem to bother him, it was decided the tournament be staged there during the European winter: with all the chaotic consequences for European football clubs which would result.

The very clubs which Platini as UEFA President is supposed to protect. And here is the confused and deeply illogical Dyke telling us that because Platini had ‘fessed up to his blunders, we should support and admire him.

It has also of course been pointed out that in his controversial role as UEFA President, Platini has initiated and expanded a so called Europa tournament which now embraces a plethora of tiny teams from remote football countries, enforcing vast journeys in mid-summer on other competitors.

His so-called Financial Fair Play scheme in the words of one columnist “was so poorly conceived and biased towards the existing elite that it collapsed under the weight of legal challenge and its own incompetence in little more than a year.”

Platini’s illogical support of Qatar has as we know been attributed to pressure exerted on him by the then President of France, Sarkozy. But again one asks shouldn’t Platini’s response be either to refuse or to resign?

Meanwhile there is no credible opponent in sight for the FIFA role. And in all fairness it can hardly be denied that, morally at least, Platini would be an enormous improvement on Sepp Blatter and above all on Joao Havelange who remained in corrupt and grasping power for 24 uninterrupted years, thanks to the passivity among most of FIFA’s members. Not excluding our own four national associations.

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A recent encomium to Lee Bowyer in a national daily evoked uneasy memories. All credit to the former Charlton and Leeds United midfielder for his enterprise in successfully building a fisheries enterprise not even in England but in France.

Yet the story evoked those memories, not least when one read that Bowyer in his Leeds United days had been involved in what was here dismissed as a mere nocturnal skirmish. Alas, it was a great deal more than that. Nocturnal it was indeed, but the ugly context was an attack by a bunch of Leeds players and certain friends from Middlesbrough – one of whom was the only person sent to gaol – on a perfectly innocent racial victim who was badly hurt.

The footballers were arraigned in court and Bowyer who was among them was acquitted by the jury with all the others bar the sole Boro fan. In the case of Bowyer however the judge refused him his costs.

One remembers too another incident in his Charlton days when he was accused of uproar in an eaterie at the expense of the young immigrant in charge. The Sun’s headline: What Do You Call 12 Leeds Utd Fans In The Same Room? A Jury.

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates scoring for Arsenal against Chelsea.

Arsenal’s belated victory over Chelsea in the Communities Shield was somewhat overshadowed by the subsequent news that poor unlucky Jack Wilshere has yet another ankle injury which not only caused him to miss the Wembley game but may keep him out for weeks.

For Arsenal, with their plenitude of talented midfield men, this is arguable less of a problem than for England; for whom, on his last appearance, Wilshere saved what could have been a humiliating day with these two splendid left footed drives and a couple of decisive goals.

It was good though to see young Alex Oxlade Chamberlain so vibrantly on song, the scorer of that fine left footed, decisive goal. He missed the last World Cup finals with that late unfortunate injury but fully fit again, he could make a major contribution to the England attack.

Do Arsenal, though still need an accomplished centre forward. Theo Walcott who has just received a monumental boost in salary, wants to play there but still surely looks best on the right wing where his pace gets full scope.

Giroud is just short of the quality that marks a major striker, though when he came on in the second half he was able to significant things which a true centre forward does.