Platini worried over future of game

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UEFA president Michel Platini has claimed he is "afraid for the future of football", saying he believes it is "going pear-shaped" in some areas.

Problems appear to be growing across Europe, with Italy preparing for a player strike this weekend days after Spain resolved its own industrial dispute, while the match-fixing scandal in Turkey is growing with Fenerbahce this week excluded from the Champions League.

"I am worried," Platini said in the Guardian. "There are strikes in Italy and Spain over players not getting paid. There are my personal reservations, not UEFA's. Maybe this is the future of football."

He added: "I can see lots of red lights flashing and I am afraid for the future of football which is going pear-shaped in some areas."

The spectre of match-fixing is one of the greatest fears for governing bodies the world over, and Platini believes it is directly linked to the financial solvency of clubs and leagues.

"If a player is not being paid, and somebody comes along and offers money to fix a match, it is a danger," he said.

Platini is hopeful that his financial fair play rules, which come into force this season and require clubs to earn what they spend, will begin to right the ship, but accepts there is much work to do.

"There is no alternative," he said. "Clubs have to live within their means. We have to face up to match-fixing, corruption, illegal betting, violence on the pitch, racism and hooliganism. But we also need to send a message of hope."

The Frenchman is early in his second four-year term as UEFA president, having been re-elected this summer. But he says the job ahead of him will be tough.

"Football will always be played in the school yard, in the street," he said. "I'm worried about the future of professional football where there are lots of problems. We are here to protect clubs, not eliminate them."

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