Platini: I'm still best man to run world football
Michel Platini came out fighting last night in the apparently unshakeable belief he will still be the next Fifa president despite his suspension from world football.
FIFA's Ethics Committee earlier this month banned the UEFA president for 90 days while it investigates the circumstances surrounding a payment of €1.8m he received from FIFA in 2011.
Platini accuses ethics inspectors of failing to investigate the case before banning him. He insists he will take the matter to the highest court to clear his name, and is determined to press on with his bid to succeed Sepp Blatter in the election in February.
He is one of seven candidates to succeed Blatter, who yesterday launched an extraordinary attack on the Frenchman via the Russian state news agency Tass.
Platini (60), who was the overwhelming favourite to win before his suspension, said: "I am, in all humility, the most able to run world football." He offered his fullest defence yet of the controversial payment - for consultancy work - which led to his suspension, insisting it was legal and fully declared to the tax authorities. The payment was made nine years after the work was carried out and, crucially, three months before the Fifa presidential election in 2011 when Platini decided not to challenge Blatter.
Platini, Uefa president for eight years, insisted: "The [money] represents the equivalent of four years' salary arrears that Fifa owed me when I was the president's special adviser. The president himself offered me a contract and a salary that I accepted.
"So to be clear: Was there work provided? Yes. Is an oral contract legal in Switzerland? Yes. Did I have the right to reclaim my money, even nine years later? Yes. Did I produce a proper invoice as Fifa required? Yes. Was the money declared to the taxman? Yes."
He hit back at suggestions that the payment came from a 'black-box' account at Fifa.
"My approach has been totally transparent. I informed the people concerned at Uefa who took it up with the finance department at Fifa.
"Where is the secret? Do you know many people who get their money from a so-called black-box account who pay their national insurance on that money and then declare it to the taxman?"