NYON: Michel Platini responded to his worldwide suspension from all football with a defiant salvo which obsessed, like an earlier statement, over his perception of a deliberate campaign within FIFA to undermine his bid for the presidency.
Platini, French president of European federation UEFA, is the subject of a 90-day ‘protective’ suspension imposed by Hans-Joachim Eckert, the world governing body’s ethics judge, on a recommendation from the investigatory chamber.
The suspension was imposed following Platini’s involvement in a criminal investigation ordered against FIFA president Sepp Blatter over a ‘disloyal payment’ to the Frenchman.
Terms of the suspension bar Platini from involvement in “all football activities on a national and international level” though his statement talked of a “staunch defiance” which – if put into practice – would threaten any views cast on his certain appeals to the FIFA appeals committee and, if necessary, the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA Ethics Committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.
I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.
Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.
I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.
I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.
Platini, like Blatter’s own lawyers, appeared to difficulty understanding the nature of the suspension.
His complaint about facing action on the basis of “vague” allegations was ironic given that he was a party, in his roles as a FIFA vice-president and UEFA president, to the suspension by FIFA of secretary-general Jerome Valcke on hearsay allegations raised by a ticket tout with a grudge.
An earlier UEFA statement expressed confidence that Platini would obey the terms of the suspension but his intention to seek speedy process of an appeal would obviate the need for the appointment of an interim president.
The manner in which Platini and UEFA respond will be monitored carefully by sponsors.
In London Michael Robichaud, senior vice-president of global sponsorships at MasterCard said he would be keeping a close eye on developments at UEFA.
Robichaud was speaking at the Leaders Sports Business Summit in London hours after Platini learned of his suspension.
MasterCard is a former partner of FIFA and is now one of the major sponsors of the UEFA Champions League.
He said: “MasterCard is certainly like any other brand that says it is absolutely paramount that in anything we participate in – or how we act for our business in what we can be accountable for – makes it important that we watch these things.”