Michel Platini’s hopes of becoming Fifa president have suffered a significant setback as a result of the 2 million Swiss franc payment he received for unexplained work undertaken on behalf of Sepp Blatter.
The so-called “disloyal payment” was allegedly for consultancy work carried out by the Frenchman between 1999 and 2002 when he was Blatter’s special advisor. However there has been no explanation as to why it took 9 years for the payment to be processed. Coincidentally, the payment was made just weeks before Platini withdrew from the Fifa presidential election which Blatter went on to win unopposed.
The fact that both Blatter and Platini have been named by Swiss attorney general’s office raises the possibility that both might be referred to FIFA’s ethics committee and almost certainly suspension pending the outcome of further inquiries.
A spokesman for FIFA’s chief ethics investigator Cornel Borbely said the committee had the power to investigate anyone in global football, regardless of position.
“If there is an initial suspicion, the Investigatory Chamber of the Ethics Committee initiates a formal proceedings. These rules apply to all people in football, regardless of their position or name.”
Until last week’s revelations, Platini was the front-runner to win next February’s election, with four of FIFA’s six confederations saying they will support him. But the latest revelations could prove fatal to his aspirations.
Platini was questioned by the swiss authorites but only as a witness “to provide information”. Shortly afterwards, he put out a statement suggesting there was nothing untoward in receiving the payment. But the timing of the payment and the fact that it took 9 years to be made will provide ammunition for his critics.
Stewart Regan, chief executive of the Scottish FA, said it was too early to say whether any European countries, including his own, would withdraw their backing for Platini next February.
“We have announced we are backing Platini but we need to get more information,” said Regan.
“We need to know what the background is because there is no detail in terms of what this payment relates to. If it’s perfectly above board, why is there an issue? Clearly there’s more to it than that. Do I find it odd that the payment was made nine years after the commission? Yes I do which is why we need more information.”
Nevertheless, the bookmakers have seen Platini’s odds on succeeding Blatter drift significantly since Friday. William Hill said it had lengthened its odds on the Frenchman getting the job to 11/10 from 1/3.
According to Ladbrokes, another bookmaker, the new odds-on favourite is Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, brother of Jordan’s King Abdullah, who was soundly defeated by Blatter in this year’s election.