UEFA President Michel Platini has had a testing week or so. It emerged last week that Michel Platini was being questioned, as a witness, regarding a payment he received from FIFA in 2011 worth 2 million Swiss francs.
It must be noted that Platini was not held by the Swiss authorities for any longer than was expected and that the former French football player was not charged with any crime, but football mud in the 21st century tends to stick.
FIFA as an organisational body has had a difficult twelve months of their own, what with an ongoing FBI investigation into the practices of the organisation with individuals being questioned and charged with a whole raft of offences including racketeering and corruption, notably surrounding the bidding processes of previous and forthcoming World Cups.
As one might imagine, the revelations concerning Michel Platini’s involvement in any criminal investigation, especially with the current UEFA President having recently announced his candidacy for the FIFA presidency, with elections due to take place in February 2016, led the European and indeed world media to be quick on the uptake, and speculation began to snowball.
Michel Platini’s letter to UEFA members yesterday was obtained by Get French Football News and in it, he attempts to absolve himself from any wrongdoing and repeats a lot of what has been said above, as well as confirming that he has written to the FIFA Ethics Committee explaining that he is at their disposition in terms of anything else that he can do in order to aid them in their ongoing investigation.
He only offered one paragraph’s worth of prose to the actual subject of the 2 million Swiss francs that he received from FIFA in 2011, which was the topic that the Swiss authorities are said to have questioned him about last week.
Platini says the following in his letter to members of UEFA sent yesterday:
“I would like to make clear that during the period from 1998 to 2002, I was employed by FIFA to work on a large set of matters concerning football… my functions were known by all… after the initial payments were made, the final 2 million Swiss francs were paid to me in February 2011.”
Now what this letter ultimately left out was why it took FIFA around 9 years to finally pay Michel Platini for the services during his four year stint from 1998 to 2002.
German newspaper Die Welt made some important revelations today regarding Michel Platini’s situation. Die Welt have revealed today that Swiss criminal proceedings against Michel Platini have been introduced. The German newspaper announces that Platini has been paid much more than just the two million Swiss Francs by FIFA over the course of the last 17 years. The German newspaper also contends that Platini was paid regularly by FIFA over the period in which he worked for the organisation between 1998 and 2001, about 300,000 to 500,000 Swiss Francs annually.
As for the two million Swiss Francs payment, sources contacted by the German newspaper suggest that neither Sepp Blatter nor Michel Platini have been able to give adequate explanations as to what exactly it was for in recent interviews with the authorities.
The Telegraph adds claims that FIFA President Sepp Blatter personally used FIFA funds to direct two million Swiss Francs to his closest challenger Michel Platini ahead of one of the more recent FIFA Presidency races in February 2011.
At the time, Platini was Blatter’s closest challenger for the hot seat and almost immediately after this payment is alleged to have been made, it is reported that Michel Platinin withdrew from the contest.
It is important to note that there is no evidence suggesting that the payment is linked to the FIFA presidency race in 2011, other than the timing of it. Both Platini and Blatter’s camps vehemently deny the claims that this was in fact a payment that Platini accepted to bow out of the race.
It is important to note that sources contacted by Die Welt claim that neither individual has been able to give the Swiss authorities a satisfactory explanation as to what the payment in February 2011 was however for.
If the respected German paper Die Welt’s claims about an investigation having been launched into UEFA President Michel Platini are confirmed, then his fight to become FIFA President next year becomes extremely difficult.