What is the footballer's creed if not the persistent quest for victory coupled with respect for the Laws of the Game, the referee, opponents, team-mates and the watching public?
That objective entirely precludes any notion of agreements being reached, compromises being struck or matches being fixed. When footballers lace up their boots, they must do so with a view to winning. Any hint of calculation is nothing less than an affront to their creed.
Cheating of any kind is unacceptable, as it represents an attack on the very integrity of competition, which demands that all parties rely solely on their own strengths in pursuing victory. Of course, there has never been – and never will be – equality in terms of strength. There will always be big clubs and smaller clubs.
Whether because of the size of their stadiums, economic circumstances or other factors, some clubs will always have more resources than many others. Clubs can compensate for this "natural" inequality by keenly developing other strengths, such as passion, solidarity and teamwork. However, they must not do so by engaging in practices such as accumulating debts, which is another form of cheating, and one that is particularly dangerous since it can threaten a club's very existence.
It was for this reason that we introduced the principle of financial fair play in our club competitions. And we did so with a view to helping clubs, not controlling and punishing them. Football is making more money than ever before, and yet clubs have never been in so much debt.
That deplorable paradox cannot continue. It is not merely a question of ethics but about the very survival of professional football. UEFA's job is to defend the interests of football as a whole, which is why we are starting this year by pledging, as always, to do whatever it takes to tackle anything that threatens the good health of our sport.
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