Platini set to take reins from Blatter after FIFA lobbying
The way was clear last night for Michel Platini to succeed Sepp Blatter as president of FIFA after he convinced football's key power brokers to back him in what will be a February election.
On a day when Blatter's attempts to stage-manage his exit from football's top job were destroyed in a shower of banknotes by a British comedian, Platini all but confirmed that he was waiting in the wings to take control.
The UEFA president left Zurich yesterday having failed to secure an election date of December 16 - February 26 was ultimately settled upon - but having won the support of the leaders of four of FIFA's six continental confederations.
With Blatter finally confirming that there was no chance he would stand against his former protege, Platini's camp were emboldened to talk up his candidacy.
The Frenchman could announce his candidacy following the World Cup draw in St Petersburg on Saturday. That would follow talks with more of the 209 national associations which will decide who will be the next leader of a crisis-plagued FIFA.
Many of them are in thrall to Blatter - almost two-thirds of them backed the Swiss in May - and he might have used his influence to sabotage Platini.
However, the 79-year-old said yesterday: "I wish all the candidates best success, and also to Michel Platini."
That was after an extraordinary meeting of FIFA's executive committee convened to tackle the worst crisis in the organisation's scandal-hit history.
Demonstrating how seriously it took the twin United States and Swiss criminal investigations that sent it into meltdown days before Blatter's May re-election, the ExCo agreed in principle to a series of reforms of its discredited governance.
Among them were term limits for all officials, centralised integrity checks for ExCo members and disclosure of salaries.
FIFA announced that detailed plans would be drawn up by an 11-strong task force led by a "neutral" chairman.
The ExCo meeting was followed by a press conference at which Blatter planned to present these changes. But proceedings were hijacked by an intruder, who stood in front of him sporting a wad of fake banknotes.
"Sepp, this is for North Korea in 2026," the interloper announced before showering the shaken FIFA president in the notes.
The invader turned out to be the British prankster Simon Brodkin, who was led away. (© Daily Telegraph, London)