Asia partners with UEFA to boost football growth



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Published — Wednesday 12 December 2012

Last update 12 December 2012 3:24 am

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KUALA LUMPUR: The Asian Football Confederation has signed a cooperation pact with European governing body UEFA to boost development of the sport in the region.
Under the pact, UEFA will help the AFC in areas such as education, training, technical development and refereeing, as well as promotion of grassroots and youth football.
AFC acting President Zhang Jilong says Europe has set the standards for world football and that the partnership will bolster Asia’s game.
UEFA President Michel Platini said after the signing yesterday that “Asia is the future” and that Europe can learn from the region in terms of marketing and women’s football.
Platini remains ardently opposed to the use of goal-line technology, which is being employed by FIFA for the first time at the Club World Cup, and said the money would be better spent developing the game.
The technology was employed in Thursday’s Club World Cup curtain raiser between Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Auckland City in Yokohama as soccer’s governing body FIFA finally answered calls for it to join the 21st century.
While once-skeptical FIFA President Sepp Blatter changed his mind after a series of controversial decisions in high-profile matches, Platini is not for turning.
The Frenchman delivered a blunt “No” when asked by reporters if he would follow Blatter’s lead.
“It is not a question of goal-line technology, it is a question of technology,” he said. “Where do you begin with the technology and where do you end with the technology? “To put goal-line technology in our competitions is 50 million Euros ($64.63 million) in five years. I prefer to give the 50 million to the grassroots and development in football than to put 50 million into technology for perhaps one or two goals per year.
“It’s a lot (of money) a goal, yeah?” Platini has long been tipped to succeed Blatter as the head of the world governing body in 2015 when the Swiss has said he would step down.
By that time the technology could be commonplace in stadiums around the world as FIFA presses on with its implementation despite the cost.

Hawk-eye, widely used in cricket and tennis, and GoalRef, which uses a microchip in the ball and low magnetic waves around the goal, are being used at venues in Toyota and Yokohama.
FIFA will analyze the results and could use one of the systems at the Confederations Cup in Brazil next year.
Platini, who is in favor of deploying extra officials instead of technology to help make decisions, will have the opportunity to discuss the issue with Blatter and the rest of the FIFA executive committee at a meeting in Tokyo on Friday.
“We supported the additional referees that is now accepted by the international board, and with the referee one meter from the line I think if he has good glasses he can see if the ball is inside the goal or outside,” he said.
While Platini is resisting calls to introduce technology, the 57-year-old has been responsible for sweeping changes in soccer since becoming UEFA president in 2007, a position he was reelected to unopposed last year.
He introduced ‘Financial Fair Play’ rules in an effort to curb overspending by European clubs, and offered more automatic places in the lucrative Champions League group stage for domestic champions.
Platini has also said UEFA has put fans first with its radical decision to stage Euro 2020 in cities across Europe rather than one or two host countries.
Criticism of the plan was premature, he said yesterday.
“The idea was decided, there is nothing else. Now we will create committees to think about what could be the best idea for what we have to do in the eight years before Euro (2020).”

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