Platini quits UEFA
MEXICO CITY — FIFA president Gianni Infantino voiced sadness Monday after his former mentor Michel Platini decided to resign as UEFA chief following a sports tribunal’s rejection of his appeal against a football ban.
Infantino, speaking to reporters after a FIFA Council meeting in Mexico City, said that, as chief of football’s governing body, he must “respect the decision” by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
“On a personal level, of course I’m very sad about this decision. I’ve worked with Michel for the last nine years,” said Infantino, who was Platini’s number two at UEFA before he became FIFA president in February.
“We did some great things in UEFA together and I really want to keep these positive memories.”
The court reduced Platini’s suspension from six years to four, saying the penalty initially imposed by FIFA’S ethics committee was “too severe.”
But the court said it was “not convinced” that the $2 million payment Platini received from FIFA in 2011 was legitimate.
The payment was ordered by world football’s disgraced ex-president Sepp Blatter, who was also brought down over the infamous transaction.
Platini, once the frontrunner to succeed Blatter as the most powerful man in the sport, said after the ruling he had no choice but to resign and would keep fighting in Swiss courts to prove his “probity.”
Asked whether FIFA would seek to recoup the $2 million, Infantino said: “Decisions have been taken today, it’s not the question.”
Infantino meanwhile opened a twoday FIFA council, which is preceding the world football organization’s congress taking place in the Mexican capital on Thursday and Friday.
“It’s my first congress as president, the first congress of a new era in FIFA, focused on football development.
“It was a big part of the discussions today, how we could invest in football development,” he said. — Reuters LONDON — Andy Murray on Tuesday admitted his coaching relationship with Amelie Mauresmo had ended because “it just wasn’t working”.
The world No 3, who lost to Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final of the Madrid Masters, said the schedule he had agreed with Mauresmo at the end of last year had given them insufficient time to work together.
Murray, who will turn 29 next week, said he would not rush into appointing a replacement but hoped to make the decision “in the medium term”. He stressed: “They are always important decisions, at this stage of my career as well, and I want to make sure it’s the right one.”
Mauresmo, who has a nine-month old baby, had spent just 10 days with Murray since the Australian Open final at the end of January. The only time they worked together in that period was at the Miami Masters in March, when Murray lost in his second match and was in a bad spell of form, having lost at the same stage in Indian Wells earlier in the month.
“In those 10 days I was going through a tough patch,” Murray said. “It just makes things difficult because you need to work your way through those tough times and when you’re not spending time together it’s very difficult to do that. Although we would have spent a lot of time together from now through to Wimbledon it’s that kind of inconsistency throughout the year that (is difficult.)
“Last year Amelie and I were working together and spending blocks of time together before the Australian Open and in the claycourt season. We spent 10 days together before Munich (in April) and she was in in Madrid and at the French Open and most of the grass-court season. That’s when I was performing at my best. That wasn’t happening this year because the weeks were less and that makes things difficult.”
He added: “I’m sad about it, but it just wasn’t working, because there was not enough time spent together.”
Murray and Mauresmo had agreed on a working schedule at the end of last year, when she returned to work following the birth of her son, Aaron, in August. She has travelled with her baby while working with Murray, but the combination of being a mother, Murray’s coach and France’s Davis Cup captain has clearly proved too much. She will stay in her Fed Cup role, which involves much less of a commitment in terms of time.
Although Mauresmo stuck to the schedule she had agreed with Murray for this year — and even added to it by going to Miami — the off-on nature of the relationship has not worked for him.
They practised together at a training camp in Dubai at the end of last year and were then together for the whole of January. Murray played well in Melbourne, reaching the final of the Australian Open again, and felt the benefit of a consistent period of work with his coach. However, what happened subsequently demonstrated the problems inherent in the arrangements over a longer period.
“It’s not really enough time if you’re trying to work on things and change things,” Murray said.
“You need a little bit more consistency so it was just acceptance that it wasn’t going to work that way. Those periods were going to continue happening through the year. PostWimbledon and post the US Open there was going to be periods where we were spending significant time apart.”
Mauresmo was in Madrid on Fed Cup business last week and talked there with Murray about their situation. “That’s when the decision was made by both of us really,” Murray said.
Earlier this week, Murray paid tribute to the contribution Mauresmo had made to his career. “I’ve learned a lot from Amelie over the last two years, both on and off the court,” he said in a statement. “She’s been a calming influence in the team and we will all miss having her around.”
He added: “I’d like to thank her for everything she has done. She’s been an invaluable member of the team.”
Mauresmo said: “Working with Andy over the last two years has been a fantastic experience for me. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being part of the great team of people he has around him. Dedicating enough time along with the travel has been a challenge for me. I wish him and his team well and I hope he goes on to win many more titles.”
Murray, who brought the former British player Jamie Delgado into his coaching entourage last month, will seek a replacement for Mauresmo, but this is not the best time of year for such matters. The French Open starts in just 13 days’ time and will be followed immediately by the grass-court season.
After Wimbledon the schedule remains just as busy. Between Wimbledon and the start of the US Open at the end of August there are two Masters Series tournaments and the Olympic Games.
At least the recruitment of Delgado means that Murray has a coach within his entourage. He has known the 39-year-old for many years and was clearly impressed by the work Delgado did last year when he coached Gilles Muller.
Delgado led Murray’s first practice session here at the Foro Italico with the help of Leon Smith, Britain’s Davis Cup captain. Matt Little, Murray’s fitness trainer, and Shane Annun, one of his physios, are also here.
Murray said he had not had much time to think how he might replace Mauresmo. “I will definitely look for someone but it’s got to be the right person,” he said.
The Scot thinks the three-week gap between the French Open and Wimbledon might be an opportunity to devote some time to the process. “I’ll just have to think and speak to a few people and chat to my team and just try to get it right,” he said.
“Sometimes when you have a fresh start it can be a positive thing. You can get a quick impact with coaches. I’ve been working with Jamie Delgado for a while now. He did very well with Gilles Muller before and obviously I was playing some good tennis last week.
“We worked very hard in Majorca to get ready for the clay-court season and I played well last week, so I’m not concerned about that just now. But hopefully I can find a solution, not necessarily in the short term, but in the medium term. I’ll try and make the right decision.”
Murray said he would consider another female coach. “Certainly my experience with Amelie was a good one,” he said. “Obviously we would have liked to have won another Grand Slam in that time, for sure, but I got myself from No 11 in the world back up to No 2 in the world and had good results.”
Finding a replacement of the stature of Mauresmo or her predecessor, Ivan Lendl, could be difficult, especially as Murray would want his senior coach to make a major commitment to the job. The relationships with Lendl and Mauresmo both finished because they were unable to give enough time.
The likes of John Mcenroe and Andre Agassi are former players for whom Murray has huge respect, but it is highly unlikely that either could give enough time to him, even if they were interested in the role. Roger Federer stopped working with Stefan Edberg at the end of last year, but the Swede’s arrangement did not see him travelling to many tournaments outside the Grand Slam events.
Murray enjoyed working with Darren Cahill when he was part of the Adidas coaching team, but the Australian is now working with Simona Halep. Might Murray ask Lleyton Hewitt if he would consider leaving his job as Australia’s Davis Cup captain? The former Wimbledon champion talks a great game and has a passion for the sport that Murray admires.
At Murray’s age, this could be the last significant coaching appointment of his career. He knows how important it will be to get the right person for the job. — The Independent