GENEVA: Michel Platini has hit out bitterly and angrily at the circumstances surrounding his 90-day suspension from all football by the FIFA ethics committee writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
A statement issued from the headquarters of the European federation hinted that the UEFA president he believed he had been victim of a plot within FIFA to have him taken down.
Platini can apply to have the suspension set aside while he follows the appeals route but he has almost certainly lost all hope of being able to stand for FIFA president next February 26. He submitted his nomination papers yesterday but his credibility is in tatters.
UEFA’s interim leadership would fall on the senior vice-president, Spanish federation leader Angel Maria Villar. The European body will also have to consider finding a new candidate for the FIFA election.
The Frenchman, who is also a vice-president of FIFA, rose to power on the back of glittering playing career and then the initial support of its president Sepp Blatter.
Until two weeks ago he was favourite to succeed Blatter at an extraordinary election congress next February 26. However his credibility was then cast into doubt after he was questioned by Swiss investigators over the acceptance of a ‘disloyal payment’ from FIFA in 2011.
This led directly to the recommendation yesterday by the investigatory chamber of the FIFA ethics committee that Platini be subject to a protective suspensions pending a full inquiry. That was enacted today by German ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert.
Earlier Platini had attacked both the fact of the investigation and the subsequent leaks about the likely outcome. Indeed, he appeared more concerned to shoot the messenger and the source of what he believes to be campaign against him than to address the core issue of the controversial payment which links him with Blatter and is the subject of a criminal investigation by the Office of the Swiss Attorney-General.
Platini railed against a “deliberate deliberate leak – which is insidious in nature and has come about in an unacceptable manner – [and] is essentially an attempt to damage my reputation.”
He added: “Over the last few weeks I have stressed my willingness to cooperate fully with the authorities carrying out the various inquiries in compliance with the strict procedural rules. FIFA., on the other hand, has clearly flouted those rules.
“I have always acted and expressed myself with honesty, courage and candour, as I feel that this is my moral duty . . . I will stop at nothing to ensure that the truth is known. Nobody should be in any doubt as to my determination to achieve that objective.
“In the meantime, a dispassionate, independent and impartial judicial body needs to shine a light on the events that led the FIFA ethics committee to open these investigatory proceedings.”
Platini then went on to state his continued intention to stand for election and described how he had rushed to submit the necessary paperwork ahead of a decision for suspension.
Letters of support
He said: “This morning I submitted the letters of support that are required in order to stand as a candidate for the presuidency of FIFA. As I have always done since 2007 I will fulfil my obligations after consulting UEFA’s 54-member associations, which I will ask to convene shortly in Nyon.
“I will also meet with all the other confedrations and and FIFA;s member associations in the spirit of openness that has always characterised my actions. I am certain we will overcome this difficulty with full transparency and the unity that gives football its strength.”
In fact, the wide scope of the suspension means Platini has lost the power to summon any formal meetings of any sort.
Also, despite his talk of transparency, he had failed – notably – to come up with a credible explanation for the 2m SwFr payment he received on Blatter’s authority from FIFA in February 2011.
Platini has claimed it was for work he undertook for FIFA nine years earlier but he has been unable to explain the time lag between contract completion and payment.
Coincidentally, the payment was made shortly after he had voted for Qatar in the scandal-ridden 2022 World Cup host vote and just as he was assuring Blatter that he would not stand against his old mentor in the forthcoming FIFA election.
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