Pla­tini quits UEFA

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

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

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