Platini rounds on Euro 2016 critics
By Football News
UEFA president Michel Platini has told European Championship expansion critics not to play if they do not like the changes.
The competition finals originally only contained four teams when it started in 1960, before expanding to eight for the 1980 edition and then to 16 ahead of Euro '96 in England.
Sixteen sides have contested the competition in each of the last five championships, but that will be increased once again to 24 for Euro 2016, which will be hosted by France.
Speaking on the eve of the qualifying draw for the tournament and at the launch of his 'week of football' plan - which will see qualifying for the finals spread out rather than the bulk of international matches being played on one night of the week - Platini revealed that England were among the countries who did not support the planned expansion.
And when the Frenchman was told of objections voiced publicly by Germany coach Joachim Low this week, he gave a fiery response.
"He shouldn't play it then, in that case," Platini told a news conference.
"The decision (to expand to 24 teams) was taken by the vast majority. Two or three associations - England, Germany, the big ones basically - weren't in favour, but of the 54, 51 actually supported the tournament.
"So, in any democracy, when the vast majority are in favour, you go forward with it even if England or Germany aren't for it.
"We can have 24 very good teams, so this tournament can be a success."
Platini was also vocal in his belief that the new 'week of football' format, spreading qualifiers over six nights of the week, will be a success and will push international football back to the forefront of the game.
He added: "The week of football' is a new concept for national team matches, agreed unanimously by national associations.
"It was a political decision. National football had been pushed out of the limelight by the club game and, while domestic leagues and the Champions League are wonderful competitions, we want to see the national game take more importance once again."