In his editorial column in the latest edition of the official publication UEFA•direct, UEFA President Michel Platini explains the purpose of the fruitful dialogue between UEFA and its 53 member national associations.
"To govern is to plan ahead," said journalist and politician Emile de Girardin, referring to an art that is certainly more difficult nowadays than it was in the 19th century, since change – often sudden and swift – is a permanent feature of our world today.
Going back further still, another renowned politician Cardinal Richelieu said that in order to govern a country well, it was necessary to listen a lot. This piece of advice remains equally pertinent today and applies just as much to sports bodies as to states, or indeed any other democratic form of government.
It certainly applies to UEFA, whose leaders, the members of the Executive Committee, are the elected representatives of the national associations. As such, it is their duty, the President included, to listen to those who elected them, to ensure the decisions they take are in line with the wishes of the majority and, in particular, are always in the general interest.
The national associations enjoy no shortage of opportunities to make their views heard, whether at UEFA Congresses or committee meetings, through correspondence or during visits to the House of European Football, whose doors are always open to them.
Even so, we thought it would be worthwhile to provide an additional forum for discussion, one that was less formal than a UEFA Congress but broader than individual or small group discussions. This was the idea behind the strategy meeting of presidents and general secretaries held in Cyprus in September, when the Executive Committee was able to hear what the leaders of the national associations had to say on various issues relating to European football and its future.
Their views and opinions will now serve as guidelines in the executive's decision-making. Declared a constructive experience by everyone who took part and one that was definitely worth repeating, the meeting in Cyprus will therefore certainly not have been the first or last of its kind.
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