KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Michel Platini’s explanation for his 2m SwFr payment from Sepp Blatter and FIFA raises more questions than it answers.
On the face of it Platini’s response is risible. The credibility of his answer connects directly to his credibility as a candidate for the FIFA presidency. Both look distinctly sickly.
The payment to Platini was revealed in a statement of facts about the criminal investigation into Blatter’s activities being undertaken by the Office of the Swiss Attorney-General. One issue concerns what it described as a “disloyal payment” to Platini in February 2011.
One can interpret ‘disloyal’ as ‘unexplained’.
Blatter and Platini were both questioned by police on emerging from yesterday’s meeting of the FIFA executive committee. Blatter, who has always denied any wrongdoing, has not been arrested but this was the first time the ongoing FIFA scandal has walked into his office.
While questioning continuing so FIFA staff were asked to sit on the floor of their offices while police seized further documents and computers in addition to their collection from earlier raids.
Platini later issued his own statement insisting that the payment related to his work for FIFA between 1999 and 2002 when he was Blatter’s football counsellor. He did not gain election in his own right to the presidency of European federation until 2007.
The Frenchman will need to explain why he sat back and waited nine years for such a significant debt to be paid.
Is he so rich that 2m SwFr is mere insignificant small change? Or is his personal accountant and book-keeper incompetent? Or, why did he suddenly need the money in 2011?
If Platini’s FIFA presidency campaign is to go forward he needs to answer these questions head-on and as soon as possible. Otherwise potential supporters, in his loyal European heartland, will take a step back or look for somebody else to carry the UEFA flag forward to the extraordinary congress on February 26.
One other point will also raise troubling questions whenever Platini faces a press conference. This concerns timing.
In the autumn of 2010 Platini, as he conceded this past week, changed his mind and decided to abandon his support for the United States as 2022 World Cup host. Instead, on December 2, Platini voted for Qatar.
Two months later, in February 2011, Blatter’s FIFA activated that 2m payment.
Not suggesting anything, of course. Just noting the coincidence.