ZURICH: Michel Platini has revealed how he tried, in vain, to persuade Sepp Blatter into a last-minute retirement as president of FIFA writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The French president of European federation UEFA was summoned by Blatter to an early-morning meeting of the world governing body’s emergency committee.

This comprises Blatter plus the heads of the six continental confederations or their deputies.

Later Platini described the scene in Blatter’s office in the massive Home of FIFA up above the city of Zurich.

Platini said: “The president of FIFA was reacting to rumours that some federations, possibly UEFA, would boycott congress and asked us to change our minds. He gave the floor to the presidents of the confederations and to me, first of all.

“I said I would like to speak to him man to man, face to face. Just the two of us but he said we should speak in front of everyone.

“I said to him: ‘We started together in 1998 [when Blatter first became president] and we won together for FIFA and now I’m asking you to leave FIFA, to step down. We are giving out a terrible image. We can’t continue this way.”

Blatter listened then asked for opinions around the table. Platini said: “The other confederations thought we should follow the agenda and see what happened at congress.”

Tough times

With that issue decided the meeting ended but not Platini’s attempt to persuade Blatter to think again.

Platini said: “After the meeting we discussed this between the two of us in his office and I repeated that he should step down. Times were tough and he needed to have the stature to recognise the situation.

“Then he said to me: ‘I like you but it’s too late. I can’t leave now when congress starts only this evening.'”

Platini described Blatter as having been moved by the advice he felt he could not take.

He added: “It’s not easy to tell a friend he should leave. Sepp did some great things and other things that were less glowing.

“In his first years, when he still had the notion of being general secretary, he was very good at managing FIFA and those were his best years.

“I have an affection for Mr Blatter and supported him for a long time but we cannot support him any more.

“It’s a quality of friends to be able to speak to each other about realities. I am a younger friend for him and he always says he was an uncle for me or something like that. So I felt that if I didn’t tell him, then nobody would.

“Many times in the my past in France I had to say to some people that it’s time we stopped. I hope that my friends will tell me when it’s time to go away and I hope I will follow their advice.”

But Blatter was not ready to do the same, despite the evident pressures.

Platini concluded: “Mr Blatter is uneasy. He is going through some hard times. All the press is against him. The press in his own country is against him so this is not good for all the people close to him.

“However, I did find him ready to fight — and win another election.”