Platini: National teams are UEFA priority

BERNE, Sept 21 (Reuters) - UEFA's priority is to prevent international football being squeezed out of an increasingly crowded fixture list, its President Michel Platini said.

In remarks published on UEFA's website, Platini said protecting national teams was his most important issue, even though much of his time at the head of European soccer's governing body has been devoted to the so-called "Financial Fair Play" policy to control club spending.

"National teams have always been the supreme expression of national football since 150 years ago when England first played Scotland," he said, after clubs complained about the international fixture list.

"But today we face a match calendar that is increasingly crowded and for which the ideal solution has not been found... I would like to set the priorities straight - defending national teams is top of our list at UEFA," Platini added.

"I am a former national team player and there is no bigger honour for any player than to wear the jersey of the national team."

European Club Association (ECA) president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said two weeks ago that the clubs wanted more participation in drawing up the international calendar and described the friendlies played in August as "nonsense" games.

Rummenigge added that ECA wanted UEFA and football's governing body FIFA to introduce an insurance policy to compensate clubs whose players are injured while playing for their country.

Many critics now feel that the Champions League, UEFA's flagship competition, provides higher quality football than either the World Cup or the European championship.