UEFA President Michel Platini has reiterated that the innovation behind the Week of Football will provide a substantial boost to national team football.
The UEFA President made his comments at a press conference held at Nice's Palais des Congrès Acropolis on the eve of the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying draw. Qualifying will implement a new match schedule from September 2014 that sees national team matches being played over six days at standardised kick-off times for the first time.
"This is an innovative project created for football lovers, which has been agreed in unanimity with UEFA's national associations," the UEFA President said, whilst also praising the support given by other confederations. "It was a political decision. We took it to try and promote national team football.
Clubs play on almost every day of the week and, as a result, national team football has been pushed out of the limelight. We would like to see it take that limelight again.
"When I was a player, be that for the French national team, or for Saint-Étienne or Juventus in European club competition, I approached the matches in the same way," the UEFA President added. "Football was not different because I was playing for the national team or for the club. It wasn't approached in a different way. It was football from a general perspective. Club football has advanced, and we now want to create the same environment for national team football."
The UEFA President stressed that the Week of Football is, moreover, centred on fan experience. "We want fans to have more choice," he said. "We want them to be able to see more matches at regular kick-off times, not only their own national team, but also all the best European national teams. This is also a question of infrastructure and providing the best possible facilities for media and fans. We are obliging our member associations to deliver modernised facilities in order to have the best possible experience."
UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino explained the mechanics behind the solution: "We want to provide national team football with a fresh approach. Through the Week of Football, starting with the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifiers and continuing with subsequent European Qualifiers, fans will see national team matches take place over six days from Thursday to Tuesday.
Each day of the Week of Football will provide eight to ten matches as opposed to 20 to 30," he added. "Kick-off times will be largely set at 18.00CET and 20.45CET on Saturdays and Sundays and 20.45CET for Thursdays, Fridays, Mondays and Tuesdays. On double-header matchweeks, teams will play on Thursday and Sunday or Friday and Monday or Saturday and Tuesday."
There will be seven Weeks of Football during UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying – in September, October and November in 2014, and March, June, September and October in 2015. In the interests of fairness, the match schedule will ensure that teams play a similar amount of matches on each day of the week of football.
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