Michel Platini has spoken extensively about his reputation in England, but suggested his work is for the long-term benefit of English clubs as his Financial Fair Play regulations are set to be implemented across Europe.
Platini, the current president of Uefa, has also claimed the prospect of a winter World Cup in Qatar is not an issue and something the organisation are looking at with Fifa.
In recent years, Platini has come in for criticism from most sections of the English media for various rulings that have been perceived as being anti-English, but he insists he is looking at the bigger picture.
“The message I want to send is that this is not an English problem. This is not a question of wanting to kill the clubs in England or anywhere else, it is to help the clubs,” he told The Telegraph.
“This is about 53 national associations and we take the decisions for everyone. When we take a decision, of course there is a big media in England and so it gets a lot of attention, but this is about many clubs, from all over Europe.”
Financial Fair Play regulations will be measured at the end of the 2013-14 season and requires clubs to live within their means, only spending money they have actually earned and Platini aimed his warning to clubs that may overstep their financial limit.
He said: “This is a matter of philosophy. We cannot say that you can spend more money than you bring in. It is just like the economy in Britain, in France, and in Italy, where the governments have to tighten their belts. We have to do the same in football.
“They know what we will do, so it is up to them.
“We will be very honest and tough with them. They know the risk.”
When asked about English football, Platini commented on the identity between the clubs and fans, but crucially the threat foreign ownership presented to this chemistry.
“The fans, you have a great atmosphere in English football, the best,” he said. “When you have some English players on the field they are playing not so bad.
“Look, there are some things that I like, some things that I do not like, it is the same in France.
“Maybe it is because I am 56, and I played football in the 1970s and 1980s, but when we played, football was about identity of the club.
“Now the fans are the only identity, because the players, the coaches, the owners, they come and they go.
“I am not in favour of so many foreign owners. In Germany, they have a policy where clubs have to be 51 per cent German-owned.
“In Spain the owners are the fans, the socios. I like these systems. Perhaps the fans in England would like it too, but they have to buy the big clubs first.”
Since taking the reigns from Lennart Johannsson in 2007, Platini has brought about a sea of change within the European game, beginning with the qualifying matches for Euro 2016, Uefa will be broadcast rights to all 53 nations.
Uefa has also extended the European Championships to 24 teams starting in 2016 and such examples of change have led to suggestions that he is fit to step into Sepp Blatter’s shoes at Fifa.
He continued: “Why would I leave here? The elections are not for four years. I was elected for four years and I always respect my contract.
“I don’t know what I will do in four years, but I make this clear, I will always defend Fifa and I will defend the president of Fifa.
“He says he will resign in 2015 and I will try to help him finish his mandate well, because it is for the good of the game.
“Sometimes I agree with Blatter and sometimes I don’t, but I started working with him a long time ago because he is honest. He is not corrupt.
“Perhaps people around Fifa are corrupted, but Blatter is honest. Perhaps you don’t like the way he makes decisions, but he is honest, 200 per cent.”
As for Qatar 2022 – a venue Platini voted for – he is open to staging a winter tournament with temperatures well exceeding 100 degrees fahrenheit in the summer.
“The vote and the summer are two different things,” argues Platini.
“I voted for a region that never received the World Cup, that was my philosophy, not because Sarkozy had lunch with me.
“I have enough personality to decide what is good for football, not for the president of France or the prime minister of Great Britain, who also wanted my vote.
“But I thought, after South Africa 2010, where it was zero degrees at 5pm and there was no life for the fans, how can we ask the fans and players to go to this country when it is 50 or 60 degrees in July?
“I think the best time to play is winter.
“The World Cup is the most important moment for the game every four years, but where does it say we always have to pay in June? I don’t see the problem of playing in December.
“What is the problem for the Premier League to finish at the end of May instead of the beginning, and recuperate the time in December?
“We have to put the World Cup and the fans first.”
Explaining the decision to expand the European Championships to 24 teams Platini pointed to aiding the development of football is the less glamorous countries.
“Why is rugby popular in Wales and Scotland and Ireland?” asked Platini. “Because they can win grand slams, they can win Test matches, they can win.
“Now in football they will never win the World Cup, but it is a long time since they participated in the finals, so I have to expand to help the development of football in these countries.”