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Soccer-Platini says 1978 World Cup was his most difficult

Reuters

By Brian Homewood

NYON, Switzerland, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Michel Platini has said playing a World Cup in the politically-charged atmosphere of Argentina was far more difficult than the torrid heat of Spain or the altitude of Mexico.

The Frenchman played in three successive tournaments between 1978 and 1986 and said it was his first that stood out as the most complicated.

"The most difficult one was 1978 because, politically, it was not easy to go and play there in Argentina," the UEFA president told reporters on Friday.

"There was a great deal of pressure from the French intelligentsia and a lot of people did not want us to go and play."

As in many countries, there was pressure in France to boycott the tournament in protest at the brutal military junta, which ruled Argentina at the time, and its so-called dirty war.

"It was the most complicated World Cup, I was only 20 at the time and I did not know how to respond to journalists," added Platini.

Platini also recalled that France and Hungary both arrived for their final group match in Mar del Plata with white shirts and the match was held up for around one hour while they went out to find a different kit.

France eventually borrowed some green-and-white striped shirts from local side Atletico Kimberley.

Platini went on to lead France at the 1982 World Cup in Spain and 1986 in Mexico where they lost both times to West Germany in the semi-finals.

"In Mexico, we played at noon, when it was 30 degrees and at 2,800 metres altitude, but we were so happy to be at the World Cup that I didn't see it as important," he said.

Platini said he did not think high temperatures would be a problem for teams at the 2014 finals in Brazil, where a number of matches will be played at midday in tropical venues.

"If you leave a month beforehand and prepare in those conditions, it's not so much of a problem," he said.

"I think all the national associations will adapt accordingly and have the appropriate preparation and, of course, physical fitness."

(Editing by Rex Gowar)

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