In his editorial column in the latest edition of the official publication UEFA•direct – the magazine's 100th issue – UEFA president Michel Platini looks ahead to the new season and puts forward ideas on the development of European football.
By making its first visit to Africa, the World Cup further boosted the extraordinary impact of football. The tournament also demonstrated the excellent state of health of European football, which, thanks to Spain, was able to celebrate winning the World Cup outside Europe for the first time.
Above all, however, the presence of Germany, the Netherlands and Spain in the semi-finals gave a fantastic sign of encouragement to every national association that, like Europe's three semi-finalists, has been making youth player development its top technical priority and that has decided to encourage attacking football and playing to win.
European football must always avoid the temptation to rest on its laurels and, instead, constantly strive to do better, in order to be a successful match for opponents who are also constantly raising the level of their game. The key to success is player development, which also means giving talented young players the possibility to gain experience in top competitions, which are certainly not lacking in Europe.
The season that is just kicking off will provide further proof of that, as Europe's national teams embark on their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying campaigns. Some will be seeking to consolidate their World Cup performances, while others have to rebuild teams that are a force to be reckoned with.
As for the clubs, apart from their domestic championships, the top names will again be enjoying the unique experience of playing in the UEFA club
competitions. For them, the temptation to call on experienced players rather than talented youngsters is no doubt greater. Hopefully though, they will take inspiration from the example of the national teams and give talented young players the possibility to improve and develop by playing alongside more experienced footballers – for the good of European football and out of respect for financial fair play.