NYON: Michel Platini appears to have been rattled at finding himself, all of a sudden, struck by debris in the fall-out from his vote for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The French president of European federation is also, through that status, a vice-president of FIFA whose executive committee back the Gulf state in the scandal-enshrouded duel vote (with 2018) in December 2010.
Following the allegations of corruption by Qatari Mohamed Bin Hammam at the weekend, The Daily Telegraph followed up with an article reporting a meeting before the vote between Platini and the then president of the Asian Football Confederation.
That the two should have had a number of meetings was perfectly logical since they were leaders of two of the six regional confederations and both members of the world governing body.
A simple statement of the fact could have sufficed for Platini who has always stated openly that he voted for Qatar because he thought it time for the World Cup to go to the Middle East. He has always denied having been influenced at a luncheon on November 23, 2010, nine days before the vote with then French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the Emir and prime minister of the Gulf state.
However the report of a discussion with Bin Hammam, coming on top of the weekend’s avalanche of accusations aimed at Qatar, clearly caught Platini off guard.
First, Le Monde reported a UEFA source saying there was “nothing secret” about the meeting which “was not connected” with Qatar’s World Cup bid, adding: “It was a simple breakfast in a hotel in Zurich during one of the FIFA executive committee meetings.
“During this breakfast Bin Hammam asked Michel Platini to run against [Sepp] Blatter for the FIFA presidency. Michel refused and Bin Hammam said that, in that case, he would run himself.”
However Platini himself then followed up by coming out into the open with an angry personal denial.
He said: “I am not longer shocked by all the smears without foundation which aim to tarnish my image at an important moment for the future of football. Nothing surprises me any more.
“I find it ridiculous that conversations with a fellow member of the FIFA exco should be traduced into a state plot. Certainly I met M. Mohamed Bin Hammam several times in 2010 since we had both been members of the same exco since 2002.
“During these conversations one issue was a candidature for the FIFA presidency. M. Bin Hammam tried to convince me to run for president in the 2011 election.
“I would also point out that I am the only member of the exco who has said, publicly, for whom I voted – proof of my total transparency – and that nobody had dictated how I should conduct myself.”