ZURICH: Banned UEFA president Michel Platini said he was satisfied with his appearance before FIFA’s appeal committee over his suspension from world football, adding he hopes his name will be cleared in time to aid final preparations for Euro 2016 in his home nation of France in June.
FIFA’s ethics committee, in December, imposed eight-year bans on FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Platini while conceding that the case concerned failed to constitute a corrupt payment.
The proceedings against the pair revolve around a payment of SFr 2m that was issued to Platini in February 2011.
The ethics committee, last October, banned both Blatter and Platini for an initial 90 days, while investigations into the alleged “disloyal payment” continued. Previously the Swiss Attorney General initiated criminal proceedings against Blatter over the payment to Platini for work carried out by the Frenchman between 1998 and 2002.
Both men have denied any wrongdoing.
Speaking after his appeal hearing, Platini said: “It’s been a very good hearing, very well conducted, with people who have been sincere. I am quite happy with the way it has gone.
“I hope to work again as soon as possible, go back to the office as soon as the decision has been given by the Appeal Committee and then prepare the Euro (tournament). There are important things to do. I am waiting to come back to work on this great football party… which will take place in France.”
Platini has maintained the payment to him was made following a verbal agreement and said Jacques Lambert, head of the Euro 2016 organising committee, and Spanish federation president Ángel María Villar Llona, had given important evidence on his behalf.
“I can’t tell you if it worked but evidence provided by Jacques Lambert and Angel Villar was very important,” Platini said.
Platini added that his case hinges on whether the Appeal Committee accepts his argument that the payment was part of a verbal agreement.
“I would never (have) asked for (the payment) if they had paid me before,” he said. “I trusted Mr Blatter to pay me as quickly as possible, but he didn’t do it, so at some point I had to ask for the payment but it was nine years later. I didn’t have a problem with that, I trusted him.”
Platini was initially considered to be the favourite to replace Blatter at the helm of FIFA, but the February 26 election to identify his successor will proceed without the Frenchman after he last month confirmed he would scrap his campaign in an effort to focus on clearing his name.
He said: “I will have an eye, maybe two eyes, on the election. There are two favourites. Gianni Infantino is the person that I trained over the past few years, Sheikh Salman is a friend and… it is difficult to back one of them publicly.”