Tuesday 21 November 2017

Platini hits back at 'pathetic' decision by Fifa to 'take me out of the football world'

IFA president Sepp Blatter is greeted by UEFA President Michel Platini in May.
IFA president Sepp Blatter is greeted by UEFA President Michel Platini in May.

Dan Elliot in London

FOR Michel Platini, the former poster boy for France, the end was ignominious.

It looks all but certain that the Fifa vice president's bid to succeed Blatter on February 26 is over. Yesterday, he described the proceedings as a "true mockery".

Their offences were judged to be a conflict of interest and disloyalty to Fifa. They avoided life bans because corruption was not proven. Mr Platini's lawyer, Thibaud d'Ales, said it came as no surprise that the corruption charge had been dropped.

"They used it with the sole purpose of dirtying Michel Platini, although they knew from the start it was an untenable argument," Mr D'Ales said.

Guilty verdicts were expected. So were the subsequent denials of wrongdoing and promises of urgent appeals to Fifa and the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Mr Platini was also dismissive of the ethics commission's work.

He said its proceedings, which included a hearing earlier this month that he did not attend, had been "orchestrated . . . by governing bodies that I know well" to tarnish him.

"I'm convinced that my fate was sealed before the December 18 hearing and that this decision is just a pathetic manoeuvre to hide a true will of taking me out of the football world," the Frenchman said.

"My behaviour has always been faultless and I'm at peace with my own conscience."

Mr Platini said he will also file a lawsuit in a civil court to seek damages for what he has endured during the ethics commission's proceedings. In a brief statement, Uefa said it was "extremely disappointed" with the ruling and supported its leader's right to clear his name.

Fifa's ethics judges decided that Mr Blatter and Mr Platini had broken ethics rules on conflicts of interest, breach of loyalty and offering or receiving gifts.

Mr Platini took €1.8m of FIFA money in 2011 - a payment approved by Mr Blatter as uncontracted salary for work as a presidential adviser from 1999-2002.

In yesterday's verdict, Mr Blatter was fined 50,000 Swiss francs (and Platini 80,000 Swiss francs (€73,000).

"Neither in his written statement nor in his personal hearing was Mr Blatter able to demonstrate another legal basis for this payment," the judges said.

Mr Blatter hit back, portraying the ethics committee as saying of Mr Platini and himself: "He's a liar and I'm a liar. This is not correct," he said.

Mr Blatter acknowledged an administrative "error" in failing to register Fifa's debt to Mr Platini in its accounts for eight years, though he insisted: "This is nothing to do with the ethics regulations."

Mr Platini's campaign has stalled since he was questioned on September 25 in a Swiss federal investigation of suspected criminal mismanagement at Fifa.

Mr Platini was paid in February 2011, just before Mr Blatter began campaigning for re-election against Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar. Mr Platini's Uefa urged its members weeks before the June 2011 election to back Mr Blatter, who was elected unopposed when Bin Hammam was implicated in bribery.

Few Fifa officials knew of the Platini payment.

"I have never cheated with money," Mr Blatter insisted, before claiming he still wielded authority in the sport. "I am still the president. Even if I am suspended, I am still the president."

Irish Independent

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