By Andrew Warshaw in Paris
June 3 – With precision timing to generate the maximum impact 48 hours before Gianni Infantino’s re-election as FIFA president, Michel Platini has launched an astonishing broadside at his former UEFA number two who, he believes, seized the most powerful position in world football at his own expense.
In a remarkable interview with a group of seven hand-picked European newspapers, Platini, the man who once would be king, says Infantino – who served under him at UEFA – is “not credible” as the head of world football’s governing body and has no interest in the women’s game whose World Cup kicks off later this week.
Platini is serving the final few months of his ban for breaking FIFA’s ethics rules and has not yet hinted as to what he will do when he is free to return to football in October.
His ban – and that of Sepp Blatter – brought their respective FIFA careers to a shuddering halt. But like Blatter previously, Platini is not waiting until his suspension ends to speak his mind, in his case about Infantino’s opportunism at stepping into the FIFA presidency.
Infantino, who was elected in February 2016, is assured of a second term when he is re-elected unopposed on Wednesday. But Platini, who is still attempting to clear his own name through the courts, says his one-time colleague doesn’t deserve the top accolade.
“I’m sure he was a very good lawyer and general secretary (at UEFA), but for me he is not credible as FIFA president, he also does not have the legitimacy,” raged Platini who was Infantino’s boss when they were the top two officials at UEFA but who lost his chance to move up to FIFA president because of that now-infamous gentleman’s agreement with Blatter that resulted in Infantino being handed the chance to step into the top FIFA job instead.
“Just because you picked balls (from a bowl) doesn’t mean you can represent FIFA,” said Platini sarcastically.
“He vomited for ten years on FIFA. When I say ‘vomit’, I am adding a little, but everyone knows that he criticised FIFA all the time.”
Platini, still clearly frustrated and angry in equal measure at his own lot, also claimed that Infantino was fooling the world by trumpeting his interest in women’s football.
“How can he come to promote women’s football when he’s always laughed at it?” said the former three-time European Footballer of the Year who claims he hasn’t spoken to Infantino for three years. “He is not a believer in it.”
Platini was banned by the FIFA ethics committee for eight years in 2015 over an unauthorised transaction of CHF2 million between him and Blatter. The ban was later reduced to four years and expires in October.
Platini and Blatter have long claimed their arrangement was back-pay owed from an “oral agreement.
Accusing Infantino of double standards and duplicity, Platini, whose critics will doubtless counter he is simply guilty of sour grapes, further charged: “He had done everything to make me FIFA President, he worked hard for me to get letters of support from the presidents of federations, because with me at the head of FIFA, he saw himself as president of UEFA.
“But when he realised that I was ‘dead’ because of my troubles, he decided to run (for FIFA).”
“When I was cleared by the Swiss courts (in May 2018), he could have asked the FIFA Ethics Commission to suspend my conviction, and he did not do so.”
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