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        "The Beauty of a World at Play"


The name Michel Platini, conjures up a sense of exhilerating joy coupled with awe. To have seen this man manuvering on the grass in an era with the likes of a Pele, Eusebio or Beckenbauer,  must have truly been a sight to behold.  Men such as these, blessed by god with almost super human abilities come along very rarely. Thus, one could only consider oneself fortunate to have had an opportunity to share the same space and time with such a man watching him play live on the field. Of course, we have the technology to bring back those special moments captured on film, however as they say there's truly "nothing like the real thing"; being present in the stadium in 1978, hearing the roar of the crowd as this gifted striker lead his team French side Nancy a province club to victory.
Born in France to Italian immigrants Michel Platini would captain the French team at the tender age of 25, and serve in that capacity for seven years. In 1984 he would his lead his team in capturing the European Championship scoring 9 goals five matches. During an illustrious career he would qualify France for three World Cups. On January 12, of this year Michel Platini was honored by the FIFA HALL OF CHAMPIONS.

Today, along with co-chairman Fernand Sastre, Michel Platini again leads his country in what will surely be a victory for World Cup and futbol as a whole. Below are his responses during an interview which we recently conducted.

                              EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Q: As Chairman of the Organising Committee for World Cup 1998,  what do you think will be it's impact financial on the economy of France?
A: I think that the games coming to France will be a real success. We would not have organised this event if believed the financial outcome would be positive. The local economies of the sponsor cities like Paris, as well France as a whole will benefit as a result of the games. All of the enterprises involved in this process of organising the World Cup do believe that it will be a success. In addition I believe that the production of the games in France will show the world that French and foreign companies can work together for the benefit of both.

Q: What was your involvement in the selection France as the host of World Cup 1998?
A: Actually it was co-chair Mr. Fernand Sastre who applied for France and was successful on May 2, 1992.  I was very pleased when France defeated Morocco by a vote of 12 to7 however I arrived a few months after that part of the process.

Q: Well, let's talk about the main stadium where the opening match and finals will be held. Why was Stade de France in St Denis, Paris chosen?
A:  Stade de France was constructed for the World Cup.  It is an 80,000 capacity stadium. In fact, FIFA rules require that the opening  games and finals of  a World Cup be held in a stadium capable of holding a minimum of 60,000 persons.  It is an very very comfortable stadium and is actually designed to accomadate various types of sporting events and concerts.

Q: With the entire world coming to see the games on French grass, how will you be able to ensure that the local citizens of France will be able obtain tickets to the games?
A: We have already sold tickets to the French public and we already know that 70 percent of the population will have an opportunity to see the games. We feel that there has been fair distribution to people living in the host cities.

Q: What is the approximate cost of hosting World Cup 1998?
A:  Our budget is worth 2.4 billion $ff.

Q: As our magazine focuses on the playing surfaces, the grass, can you state which companies were responsible for the maintance of the playing surfaces of France 98?
A: Well, that's very difficult because each of the ten pitches has a seperate company responsible for care and maintenance of the grass playing surfaces.

Q: Will the quality of the playing surfaces in France98 compare  in equal quality with those surfaces installed and maintained by the ACT Team (Architechure, Construction & Turf) during America's World Cup 1994?
A: I hope so, but speaking about French surfaces, the grass surfaces will be allright however I don't expect them to be the same quality as those maintained for example in the United Kingdom but they will be fine.

Q: How do you think the French national team will perform on it's own turf?
A: I don't like to comment on our national team as I want the coach to feel independent with regard to decision making. I want our team and it's coach to participate without any such pressure.

Q: Well, who do you personally feel will win the World Cup on French turf.?
A: I and many other believe Brazil will win a fifth title in France.  The Brasilians are the best team of this era. They have a marvelous attack and they play as a block.  They are very competitive. Futebol is a part of Brasilian culture. And above all others, they have the technical ability and experience to win the title.  

Q: Finally, when all is said and done, how would you as Chairman want the games of  World Cup 1998 to be remembered?
A: It has to be remembered as the World Cup of the youth, a festival of joy and celebration, a universality in emotion and sharing.   In essence, this World Cup should be remembered as "the beauty of a world at play!".

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