Dear friends of football,
The year of 2011 which is coming to a close has probably been one of the most contrasting and rich in learning opportunities that I have experienced as President of UEFA.
It has been one of those years where one feels the weight and magnitude of one's responsibilities, but which equally serves to provide greater strength. Because, the just cause – however difficult it may be – is all the more obvious.
To be a president is not to have an organisation at one's service, but to be at the service of an organisation, of a game, of football.
I have always perceived my responsibility as being to protect the game, and 2011 has been a year in which the game has needed particular protection. It has been a year which has underlined the importance of our organisation as one of the guarantors of the values, stability and equity of this sport.
It has been a year in which certain of our national associations have had to take courageous decisions to preserve the justice and integrity of our sport. A year in which we have also had to remain solid and defend our values – sometimes alone – to guarantee the respecting of the rules and the equity of the competitions, and to prevent football becoming a hostage of a few for their own profit and interests. It has been a year in which, unfortunately and at the expense of certain agonies, football has emphasised its need for transparency and governance, aspects which are so important in relation to the respect which is so dear to me.
However, 2011 will also remain a year in which there were moments of exceptional football. These have been so numerous that it would be difficult to mention them all, from the smallest to the major competitions. Nevertheless, if I had to pick one, it would be the exceptional UEFA Champions League final at Wembley. It was not only a legendary match – it also reminded us why we are all here, at the service of football and the players, without whom nothing would be possible, and who make the dream possible.
I am happy, for another three years, to be at the service of our 53 national associations, to continue this great and wonderful task of protecting European football and helping it to progress together.
It is for this reason that UEFA in its entirety joins with me in wishing you a marvellous 2012. It will be an essential year for European football. The EURO final round in Poland and Ukraine will see years of effort crowned by a tournament which promises to be unique. But it is also a year in which I hope that we enter a new era in club football, thanks to financial fair play, which is supported and carried forward by everyone, and which is a symbol of our unity and our capacity to assume our responsibilities together when it comes to preserving football.
Thank you to everyone – players, coaches, referees, association members, clubs and supporters – the true actors in football who do so much to keep intact the magic of our sport.
I wish you a Happy New Year!
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