PARIS/NYON: Michel Platini has joined the queue of officials who believe a re-vote on the 2022 World Cup award should be undertaken . . . if Michael Garcia comes up with hard evidence of corruption writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The French president of European federation UEFA has come under pressure, partly over his own admission that he voted for the Gulf state to host the finals.
Reports earlier this week tried to suggest something suspicious about a meeting shortly before the December 2010 vote between Platini and his then fellow FIFA executive member Mohamed Bin Hammam.
Platini has insisted that, as fellow committee members and senior representatives of their regions, this was merely routine. Indeed, Platini has said the Qatar vote was not mentioned and that the meeting had concerned the Qatari’s ambitions to become FIFA president.
In an reactive interview with L’Equipe Platini said he had no regrets over his vote for Qatar which had been “the right choice for FIFA and for world football” to take the finals to the Middle East for the first time.
However he added: “If evidence of corruption is proved, there will need to be a new vote and punishments.”
Platini went on to suggest that the negative publicity about his role was linked to his possible candidacy next year for the FIFA presidency.
FIFA’s ethics prosecutor Garcia has said he is about to complete his two-year inquiries into circumstances surrounding the simultaneous awards of the 2018 to Russia and the 2022 finals to Qatar.
Platini added: “I read ‘Platini corrupt?’ in all the newspapers, on news agency wires, on blogs. Honestly, it hurts.
“I saw this colleague [Bin Hammam] 10,000 times in 15 years. Why would I have had a secret meeting with him? I now realize that in the background there is somebody, something, people organizing all this. I can feel it.
“For a year now, everything is being done to discredit me, regardless of what I do. It is easy to feed people who spend their time denigrating you on social networks. There are firms that specialize in this. It’s not hard, you simply have to pay.
“I have no proof. I don’t know who is behind all this. But I think lots of interests are at stake, for those at FIFA, for those who want to ‘be there’ and, without doubt, also for those who want us to overturn the attribution of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.”
Shortly before the vote Platini was a guest at a lunch hosted in the Palais de l’Élysée by then President Nicolas Sarkozy and which was also attended by the Emir of Qatar and the prime minister. Platini insisted this had no influence on his vote.
Invasion of France
The following spring Qatar broadcaster Aljazeera, through subsidiary BeIN Sports, bought French league TV rights and the Qatar Investment Authority took over Paris Saint-Germain and turned them into not only national champions but European football biggest transfer spenders.
Since then Platini emerged as a leader of a campaign to have the finals switched from the traditional date of June/July to winter to escape the searing summer temperatures which had been the subject of a cautionary warning in the technical report which had been set before the FIFA exco – and apparently ignored.
Platini has also stepped up his own promotional and media platform this year with the appointment of former CNN sports presenter Pedro Pinto as a personal media officer and UEFA’s contracting of London-based Vero Communications to help ‘develop and support its international communications activities’.
Vero, by coincidence, played a significant role in guiding Qatar’s media strategy in the campaign to win World Cup host rights.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has commented that political influence had been brought to bear on the World Cup bid process by both French and German governments.
Major FIFA meetings will be undertaken next week in Sao Paulo in the days leading up to Opening Match of the 2014 World Cup between hosts Brazil and Croatia next Thursday.
The world federation’s executive committee meets on Saturday and Sunday ahead of regional conferences and then FIFA Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday.