PARIS: Banned UEFA president Michel Platini has endorsed the candidacy of Gianni Infantino ahead of tomorrow’s FIFA presidency election writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The Frenchman, angry and bitter after the world federation’s appeal committee did not quash his suspension from the game, issued his vote of support in an interview with French daily sports newspaper L’Equipe.
Platini remains president of European federation UEFA even though he is banned from all football activity for accepting a ‘disloyal payment’ of SFr2m authorised from FIFA by its outgoing head Sepp Blatter.
Yesterday Platini saw his ban trimmed from eight years to six, prompting him to instruct his lawyers to pursue a further appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Infantino, who has worked at Platini’s side for almost a decade and is now UEFA’s general secretary, is one of five candidates for the FIFA presidency.
Platini said: “We spent nine years working together. He’s a hard worker. I trust him.”
Infantino stepped up and into the election campaign only after the former captain and manager of France was forced to step aside because of his ban.
Further support came later from Angel Villar, the Spanish federation president, in opening the congress of UEFA of which he is senior vice-president.
Villar said: “In recent nonths unfortunately our sport, our institutions and the people who run them have suffered a great deal. I’m thinking here of our persident Michel Platini who continues to work to defend himself to prove his innocence and honour in which I firmly believe and hope that Michel will be back with us very soon.”
Platini told L’Equipe he would continue to contest the “injustice” of his punishment.
“I will not commit suicide,” said Platini. “I’m not as valium. It was not my destiny to become president of FIFA . . . I’m not a politician, I’m a man of football – and this I remain. So I will fight to the end against injustice, to be cleared, because I did absolutely nothing wrong.”
Platini blamed the faceless administrators who had taken over FIFA for his expulsion from the game.
He said: “FIFA bureaucrats took power. They are the ones who have done everything in their power to fire me.
“Today, we must need to decide what sort of FIFA do e want? Do we want one that belongs to the people FIFA elect or a FIFA led by bureaucrats? This is the challenge of the coming years.”
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