PARIS: A document which, according to the lawyers of Michel Platini, could save him from a life ban may, instead, serve to firm up the case against him writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche reported seeing a 23-page report about his work for FIFA which had been set before the executive committee of UEFA in 1998.
This referred, apparently, to Platini’s three-year commission to work as football adviser to newly-elected Sepp Blatter. Platini’s appointment was never a secret, having been widely publicised at the time.
Blatter and Platini are currently under suspension pending an ethics committee judgment on a ‘disloyal payment’ of SFr2m from the one to the other in February 2011. Both men have insisted that the payment was made to honour a ‘verbal contract.’
One of Platini’s lawyers said at the weekend that “this piece comes to demonstrate, contrary to the argument on which all the charges, as Michel Platini contract with FIFA had no covert nature, and that many people, including UEFA and FIFA had knowledge of it in 1998.”
Platini is hoping to clear his name in time to enter the FIFA presidential race ahead of the election on February 26.
The mystery document woud not be the first leak or ‘discovery’ apparenty serving the purpose of Platini’s lawyers.
Yet, if the document suggests the existence of a formal contract between FIFA and Platini, then the ‘verbal contract’ must refer to some other agreement between the two men.
The timing of the payment is considered suspect because it was made a nonsensical nine years after Platini had completed his FIFA work and just at a delicate in the lead up to the 2011 presidential election.
Neither Blatter nor Platini has come up with a plausible reason about such a delay in payment.
Another unanswered question concerns why such a document would have been put before the UEFA executive committee in 1998. Platini had just been president of the 1998 World Cup organising committee but had no status within UEFA.
He was not elected to the UEFA exco until 2002, after he had ceased working for FIFA.
More cold water was poured on the mystery document by Gerhard Aigner who had been UEFA’s chief executive at the time.
He told German news agency SID: “I can’t imagine that there was such a document. Platini was not a member of the UEFA executive committee at the time.
“We knew that he supported Blatter and it was clear to everybody that he would not have done that for free. But we didn’t even know what salary the FIFA president Blatter, who was elected over our UEFA president Lennart Johansson, was on – why should we have taken any interest in what Platini was being paid?
“I cannot remember there being such a document, but it cannot be ruled out after all this time. If Platini/Blatter had been a subject of discussion, then it would have had to be in the minutes of the meeting.”