KEIR RADNEDGE in BUDAPEST: UEFA is preparing to consider an emergency rush to action over the presidency if Michel Platini loses his appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Angel Maria Villar, senior vice-president of the leaderless European federation, gave notice of the first possible step down that road at UEFA Congress here in Budapest today.
Frenchman Platini was suspended from all football for eight years by the ethics committe of world federation FIFA – of which he is also a vice-president – just before Christmas. He was judged guilty of ethics breaches over the acceptance of a SFr2m ‘disloyal payment’ from FIFA, authorised in 2011 by its then president Sepp Blatter.
Platini has denied all wrongdoing, had his ban trimmed to six years by the FIFA appeal committee, and pleaded last week for CAS to clear his name entirely. The three-man panel could announce its decision by the start of next week.
The 60-year-old had wanted an expedited hearing in the hope of reassuming the UEFA leaderhip before the Euro 2016 finals in June. However Villar indicated today that UEFA is prepared to consider immediate alternative action in case Platini fails.
Villar, a lawyer who is long-serving head of the Spanish federation and also a senior vice-president of FIFA, was among the witnesses heard by CAS last week.
European road map
He told UEFA Congress: “Our sport has suffered much in recent times. I’m thinking of our president, Mr Michel Platini, who has just made his appeal to CAS.
“I very much hope that Michel will be back among us any day now but I would remind you that UEFA has a road map to follow, for the continued development of football at European level whatever CAS decides.
“So just before the final of the UEFA Europa League in Basel [on May 18] an extraordinary meeting of the executive committee will be held. In all probability we will have received the CAS decision, announced it to the [federation] presidents and will announce our next steps.”
While Platini has pursued his courts action, UEFA has granted him the right to a consideration of innocence.
The European federation, ideally, would appear to need a president in place for the European Championship finals.
Acting general secretary Theodore Theodoridis did say, in a news conference after congress, that UEFA had learned to deal with awkward circumstances ever since last October – when Platini was first suspended – and could continue to do so.
A meeting of the UEFA exco any earlier than mid-May is impossible because many members will be attending FIFA Congress in Mexico City next week.