KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS —- Michel Platini has lost one of the pillars of his own administration at a difficult time on the FIFA election campaign trail.
Kevin Lamour, who has headed up the European federation president’s office, has left the organisation.
Although his departure was confrimed immediately after events of Friday, May 25, when Platini was interviewed by SWiss police over a ‘disloyal payment’ from FIFA, UEFA insists this the timing was entirely coincidental.
Reportedly, Lamour had informed the Frenchman and general secretary Gianni Infantino ahead of the recent executive committee meeting in Malta that he needed a time-out.
Confidence over Platini’s bid for the FIFA top job has eased after he was assessed as “between a witness and accused” by the Swiss Attorney-General.
He was paid 2m Swiss francs in 2011 for work completed in 2002 but failed initially to explain the delay. His eventual claim that the long wait was due to FIFA’s financial problems was greeted with a mixture of derision and scepticism.
A UEFA spokesman said: “It had been agreed several months ago that Kevin would take a leave of absence at the end of September after the executive committee meeting in Malta. The duration of the leave has not yet been confirmed.”
The payment issue has added another twist to the race to succeed Sepp Blatter as president of the world federation next February 26. Cases involving Blatter, who is under criminal investigation, and Platini are both understood to be under scrutiny by FIFA’s independent ethics committee.
This past week the ethics committee banned former CONCACAF leader and FIFA vice-president Jack Warner for life. It also reported to be about to pass a verdict on the Chung Mong-joon, the South Korean who is a rival to Platini in the presidential contest.
Lamour became Platini’s chief of staff after the Frenchman ousted Lennart Johansson as UEFA president at the 2007 congress in Dusseldorf. He had worked for Platini during the campaign, saying later: “I wanted to help his campaign because I shared his ideas on defending grassroots football and encouraging development in countries which had been overlooked for too long.”
His father Jean-Louis Lamour, sports director at Brest, knew Platini from the days when he had been a member of the security staff with the French national team between 1984 and 1993. Lamour Jr studied law and politics and then spent a year as an intern with the French consulate in Atlanta to brush up his command of English.
Further studies at the Sorbonne and the Institute of Higher International Studies in Geneva prepared him for a career in the diplomatic service – before he became sidetracked by his love of football. After working for Platini, effectively and successfully, on the campaign trail he joined the UEFA staff.
The pace and pressure has been intense. He is said to have told friends that he had enjoyed “only six days” holiday in the past year and needed to take a sabbatical.