European football’s governing body UEFA says President Michel Platini has its full support while he fights to clear his name. Platini was suspended last week as part of an investigation into corruption allegations.
All 54 UEFA members on Thursday called for a speedy decision in the case of their suspended president.
“We support Michel Platini’s right to a due process and a fair trial and to the opportunity to clear his name,” UEFA Secretary General Gianni Infantino (above) said at a press conference following an emergency meeting in Nyon, Switzerland.
“We strongly call on all instances in the current process…to work very rapidly to ensure that there is a final decision on the merits of the case by, at the latest, mid-November 2015.”
Platini and outgoing FIFA President Sepp Blatter were last week given a 90-day ban by the FIFA Ethics Committee, pending a full investigation into both men’s activities. Platini’s case relates to a $2 million (1.8 million euro) payment made to him by Blatter in 2011 for consultancy work performed years earlier.
Platini says there was nothing shady about the deposit, and that the money was unpaid additional salary from his job as Blatter’s adviser between 1998 and 2002. However, Swiss law usually prohibits back-pay for work undergone more than five years previously.
Blatter, who is also the subject of a Swiss criminal investigation into corruption, has already said he will step down as FIFA president, a post he has held since 1998. While Blatter has been replaced at FIFA by acting chief Issa Hayatou, Platini remains in his post at UEFA. As part of the FIFA suspension, however, he cannot attend any matches.
A vote to elect Blatter’s successor is expected to be held during the FIFA congress on February 26. Platini has put himself forward as a candidate, however the suspension could worsen his chances of passing an integrity test, which is part of the FIFA electoral process. It may also effectively prohibit him from campaigning.
At Thursday’s press conference, Infantino said UEFA’s members were unanimous in agreeing that the vote to elect a new FIFA head should go ahead as planned and face no delays.
“It’s absolutely crucial for the credibility for this whole process to make sure there’s a legitimate, elected president of FIFA who can take over this organisation and that everything is cleared up very quickly so everyone can and move on,” Infantino said.
He added that UEFA had no current plans to look for an alternative candidate.
“If someone else comes up (as a candidate), if another European comes up, it’s too early to say. It was discussed and no decision was taken,” he said.
Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan is the only other hopeful to formally submit his candidacy to FIFA, which includes nominations from five football federations. Prince Hussein ran, and lost, against Blatter earlier this year, only for Blatter to announce he’d be stepping down days later.
nm/msh (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)