By Andrew Warshaw
September 22 – New UEFA boss Aleksander Ceferin, in the job for a matter of days, has unwittingly been dragged into a dispute over whether his predecessor Michel Platini is to receive a special financial handout despite his presidential term being cut short by his FIFA ban.
Before he has even had time to get his feet under the table, the 48-year-old Slovenian is learning fast that what he might consider relatively unimportant business in the grand scheme of things may be very different from the agenda of a probing international media.
On Wednesday, Ceferin held a short media briefing following his first overseas assignment – the official unveiling of the logo for the climax of Euro 2020 – and was in no way phased by the range of questions thrown in his direction. In fact he seemed to anticipate much of the questioning, not least regarding reports that Platini may be handed a golden good-bye.
Ceferin said he only discovered on Tuesday that there were discussions about whether to award Platini a one-off sum as part of a general severance and retirement compensation package. “I have a meeting with the administration on Monday about it,” Ceferin said. “But I can assure you we will not do anything illegal or unethical.”
Any “thank you” payment to Platini would be seen internally as reward for nine years of service and recognition of his achievements since first being elected UEFA president in 2007, implementing financial fair play and driving up revenues.
But it would cause outrage among football’s reformists given that Platini, who had two and half years left as president, was banned by FIFA’s ethics committee over that improper payment of CHF2 million made to him in 2011 for consultancy work conducted a decade earlier on behalf of Sepp Blatter.
In fact, justification of a UEFA payment has already been questioned by the German FA, one its biggest members.
“It’s of decisive significance for the integrity and credibility of UEFA that financial questions should be dealt with seriously,” German federation president Reinhard Grindel told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper. “Platini was suspended because of an unjustified payment.”
Grindel had also criticised the decision to allow Platini to address the extraordinary congress in Athens last week at which Ceferin was voted in as his successor. Platini used the platform to maintain his innocence and vow to continue to fight to clear his name having had his suspension reduced on appeal to four years – but not scrapped altogether.
Meanwhile, UEFA has confirmed that Platini’s undisclosed salary – reported to have been around CHF 2 million, ironically the same amount involved in his ban – has now stopped.
“Former UEFA president Platini is no longer receiving a salary from UEFA,” said a statement. “The overall matter of Mr Platini’s remuneration since his suspension began will be addressed by the UEFA executive committee in due course following advice and proposals from the newly-formed UEFA compensation committee and legal experts.”
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