Daily Management Review

Former UEFA President detained to testify in a corruption case


Former President of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), Michel Platini, was detained on Tuesday to give testimony within the investigation into a corruption case in vote for the host country of the 2022 World Cup, as well as the vote held in 2016 in France. Together with Mr. Platini, Sophie Dion, who was sports adviser to former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, was detained. The investigation believes that they could have abused their powers in order to ensure victory for Qatar. It is noteworthy that this fall is the deadline for the four-year suspension of Michel Platini by the International Football Federation (FIFA) for receiving questionable payments from its former president Sepp Blatter. Mr. Platini previously assured that he intends to return to football activities, but now this may be difficult.

Klearchos Kapoutsis
Klearchos Kapoutsis
On Tuesday, in the suburb of Paris Nanterre, French police detained the former president of UEFA, once one of the most influential functionaries of world football, Michel Platini. Mr Platini was detained “exclusively to give testimony” in the case of vote for Qatar and France as the host countries of the World Cup 2022 and Euro 2016, said the spokesman for the former president of UEFA. “Michel Platini is behaving calmly, answering all questions, including those related to the selection process for Euro 2016, on which he provided useful explanations,” he said. Mr. Platini’s legal team insists on his innocence.

Simultaneously with Michel Platini, Sophie Dion, who was the sports adviser to the President of France during the period when Nicolas Sarkozy headed the country (2007–2012), was detained. Claude Guéant, who served for years as secretary general of the French presidential administration, and later was appointed as the Minister of the Interior, was also called in for questioning.

According to the authorities, Michel Platini and Sophie Dion were involved in corruption, creation of a criminal community, abuse of powers and so on. According to the police, the aforesaid persons involved committed the crimes shortly before the elections of the host countries of the 2018 and 2022 world championships. The first one was successfully held last year in Russia, and Qatar is engaged in the organization of the second.

Investigators are interested in circumstances of the meeting, held at the Elysée Palace at the end of November 2010, nine days before the meeting of the FIFA Executive Committee.

It was attended by Nicolas Sarkozy, Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and Michel Platini. There is reason to believe that it was after this meeting that Mr. Platini, who, as UEFA president, was a member of the FIFA executive committee (this body decided who to give the world championships) changed its original position and voted not for the United States but for Qatar. As stated later, after Sepp Blatter resigned from the post of FIFA president, Michel Platini admitted privately that Nicolas Sarkozy did not tell him directly that he should vote for Qatar. Nevertheless, the hint that this should be done was unequivocal.

Recall that Michel Platini, along with Sepp Blatter, were the biggest actors of the corruption scandal that broke out in world football in 2015. Then the FBI, jointly with the Swiss police, arrested a number of high-ranking football functionaries for involvement in criminal schemes. As a result, both Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini lost their posts. The key factor in their resignation was the payment of $ 2 million made in 2011, which FIFA paid to Michel Platini on behalf of Mr. Blatter.

According to Blatter and Platini, this was just payment for the work carried out by the latter between 1998 and 2002, when he was an advisor to Sepp Blatter. But the control bodies of the federation considered the tranche very similar to a bribe for Michel Platini’s refusal to participate in the FIFA presidential elections. As a result, both Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini received eight years of disqualification. Later, Mr. Blatter succeeded in reducing the period of suspension to six years, and Mr. Platini - to four. That is, Michel Platini’s disqualification will expire in the fall. Previously, he argued that he would do everything possible to return to football activities. But in the light of recent events, the former head of UEFA may no longer be up to football.

source: reuters.com