KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —– Michel Platini wasted his own time and words and even some supporters’ patience by ranting in his first two suspension-week statements about leaks and plots.
Yet the most devastating leak did not concern his ethics committee hearing but the revelation that both he and Sepp Blatter told the same damning tale: that the infamous SFr2m payment stemmed from a verbal agreement.
No wonder Franco Carraro, head of the FIFA audit committee, said he had seen no record of the payment: it never went through the books he saw. Apart from that another has arisen over conflict of interest since, when the payment was made in February 2011, both Blatter and Platini were members of the organisation’s government.
UEFA’s executive committee will meet in emergency session on Thursday.
Right now the likelihood is its members (minus the suspended Platini) will maintain the credo of ‘innocent until guilty’ pending, at least, a decision by the UEFA appeals committee on the submissions of Platini (and Blatter).
But unless Platini can provide the exco with evidence hidden so far about the probity of the payment and – above all – any sort of paper trail then UEFA would be advised to waste no more time and cut him adrift in the interest of its own greater good; this includes finding a new, clean, candidate for the FIFA presidency election.
Platini would be, as Le Monde wrote last week, ‘politically dead.’
Coincidentally Platini’s colleagues, if they have his interests at heart, should also address what is effectively a rude gesture to ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert & Co by, in contrast to FIFA, not acknowledging the presidential suspension in the exco line-up on UEFA’s website.
A leadership vacuum exists which could be filled by the German federation and England’s Football Association. These are the two reluctant heavyweights which, thus far, have sat on their hands. Yet both have members on the governing excos of both UEFA and FIFA: DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach and FA vice-chairman David Gill.
It needs only one or the other or both to say what needs saying.
Greg Dyke, chairman of the Football Association, could take the initiative and resolve his own organisation’s diplomatic dilemma by asking Platini to confirm or deny the issue of the verbal contract.
In any case, Swiss law also states that even with the existence of a written contract, all payment must be made within five years. Platini claimed the payment was for work concluded in 2002 yet he was not paid until February 2011.
Counting the votes
Niersbach and Gill will be among the seven UEFA delegates to next week’s meeting of the FIFA executive committee in Zurich. Top of the agenda will be whether to postpone the election set for February 26. Right now UEFA’s seven are considered likely to vote for postponement to buy time for their beleaguered president.
A ‘Yes’ is also likely from the South American duo (given that Brazil’s Marco Polo Del Nero will not attend for fear of arrest).
The African confederation does not want a European president to succeed Blatter. So the five African delegates (interim president Issa Hayatou, three more plus women’s delegate Lydia Nsekera) are likely to vote No. Similarly Asia’s trio have no duty to stick by Platini, particularly since AFC president Sheikh Salman could surely reach out profitably to Africa should he decide to run.
FIFA was a subject of international derision when the election was scheduled, originally, as far away as February 26. A rudderless ship cannot afford to brave a tempest any longer than necessary.
Of course the FIFA appeals committee could scrap the suspensions of Blatter and Platini. But that appears highly unlikely. Why else would the French federation already be preparing support for Platini further on at the Court of Arbitration for Sport?
Presumably a leak about the verbal agreement has already reached the ears of FFF president Noel Le Graet.
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