UEFA President Michel Platini looks back at events in 2009 and hopes that football fans will enjoy a memorable 2010.
In football, as in other sports, the end of the calendar year is not necessarily the best time to take stock, since we follow a different calendar, based on the football seasons, which generally start in summer and end the following spring.
This does not, however, stop us from pausing for a moment to reflect on the first half of the season. For the continent's best national teams, the last few months of 2009 – with all their surprises, successes and disappointments – represented the home straight in the qualifying competition for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
For the clubs, the season began back in June but really took off in August, with the draws in Monaco for the group stages of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. There is, of course, still a long way to go in both these competitions, but it is already apparent that the format changes have been beneficial. And I am really looking forward to the implementation of another new feature – that of the Champions League final being played on a Saturday – enabling us to enjoy a whole week of build-up to this spectacular event.
Behind the scenes, the first half of the season was also marked by intense activity and definite progress towards establishing greater financial fair play in our club competitions. But events also proved that there was still a long way to go in ridding football of all those for whom morals and ethics are merely abstract notions.
We could wish for this to change – it is the season for wishes after all – but it is better to take action. And this is what we will do, with the utmost determination and the help of the authorities where necessary. I do, however, have one wish, which goes out to everyone who holds the ball close to their hearts – that 2010 is not only the year of the World Cup, but one when football is enjoyed from beginning to end, from the mini-pitches to the grandstands, from friendly matches to international finals.
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