Platini faces tough battle against Fifa ethics committee

  • AFP, Zurich
  • Updated: Dec 19, 2015 00:00 IST
A file phot of UEFA President Michel Platini giving a press conference prior to the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich. (AFP)

Uefa President Michel Platini’s fading chances of becoming the next FIFA president were put to test on Friday as the Fifa ethics committee over a payment of about $2 million from Sepp Blatter.

Platini, who could be banned for several years for conflict of interest, refused to attend the hearing at FIFA headquarters in protest. His lawyers have denounced “a process he regards as solely political and intended to prevent him from standing” in the FIFA presidential election on Feb. 26.

Platini’s Paris-based lead lawyer, Thibaud d’Ales, arrived at about 8:15 a.m. Swiss time (0715 GMT) to present his defense to four ethics committee judges, and left 10 hours later.

“Now we are hoping the ethics committee will render the law,” D’Ales told media gathered at FIFA’s front gate after the hearing.

Platini, the UEFA president, had been favored to succeed Blatter in soccer’s top job until Swiss investigators questioned him in September over suspected criminal mismanagement of FIFA money.

Switzerland’s attorney general, Michael Lauber, opened criminal proceedings against Blatter and said Platini’s status was “between a witness and an accused person.”

Platini and Blatter were subsequently suspended for 90 days by FIFA ethics judge Joachim Eckert. On Thursday, Eckert chaired Blatter’s hearing, which lasted nearly eight hours.

Verdicts in both cases are due Monday morning and bans of at least several years are expected for rules-breaking conflicts of interest. Blatter has called an 11 a.m. (1000 GMT) news conference Monday at the nearby former FIFA headquarters.

Even if Platini is cleared, he faces resistance from UEFA members to stand in the FIFA election.

“We just need someone where there is no doubt,” Martin Glenn, CEO of the English Football Association, said this week. “FIFA and football need to change and need to be seen to be changing, so I think it would be difficult if that accusation was not totally laid to rest and I think it’s quite hard to do that.”

The case centers on Platini getting about $2 million of FIFA money in 2011 as uncontracted salary for working as Blatter’s presidential adviser in 1999-2002.

Platini was a FIFA vice president and executive committee member for eight years when he first asked FIFA in 2010 to settle the debt.

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