June 18 – Former UEFA president and French football legend Michel Platini has been detained for questioning on suspicion of corruption over the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, according to reports.
Platini had been serving an unrelated four-year ban from the sport since 2015 over a $2 million “disloyal payment” he received from Sepp Blatter who was also banned for his role in the transaction.
Platini was apparently detained by French police on Tuesday morning in a western suburb of Paris as part of the investigation into how the 2022 World Cup hosting rights were awarded, according to French investigative outlet Mediapart.
Reports said Platini, whose ban (originally eight years reduced to four on appeal) ironically is due to end in October, has not been charged with any crime but the move is bound to rekindle speculation over the decision to award Qatar the World Cup.
Organisers have repeatedly insisted their bid was 100 percent clean and were cleared of any wrongdoing following a two-year FIFA inquiry.
At the time of the World Cup 2022 vote Platini was one of the 24 voting members of the FIFA executive committee and openly declared he was voting for Qatar. There was a now infamous letter from then FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke to Platini
Suspicions surrounding Platini’s motivations were raised when it became public that he had had a lunch with then French president Nicolas Sarkozy and the future Emir of Qatar. Platini has always denied that he was following instructions from Sarkozy to vote for Qatar for 2022.
“I voted for a region that never received the World Cup, that was my philosophy, not because Sarkozy had lunch with me,” Platini insisted.
“I have enough personality to decide what is good for football, not for the President of France or the Prime Minister of Great Britain, who also wanted my vote.”
It later became apparent that Platini’s family links with Qatar were running deeper and that his son had taken a job with a Qatar-owned leisurewear brand.
Having voted for Qatar, Platini then said it was almost impossible to play the Woirld Cup in the desert heat in June/July in the Middle East and that the World Cup in 2022 should be moved to winter.
In 2016 French prosecutors said they were considering launching their own investigation into Qatar being awarded the right to host the 2022 World Cup.
Speaking on the French radio station Europe 1, national financial prosecutor Eliane Houlette fielded a question about launching such a probe, saying the idea remained a possibility.
“We are think about [an investigation]. We have a number of indications than encourage us to investigate,” she said.
“If there is an investigation, probably the role of Mr. Platini will be essential, but the investigation will not be focused on Mr. Platini,” Houlette said.
In a statement, Platini’s lawyers reiterated he had not been arrested and has “expressed himself serenely and precisely, answering all the questions, including those on the conditions for the awarding of Euro 2016, and has provided useful explanations”.
They added: “He has nothing to do with this event which doesn’t concern him at all. He is absolutely confident about what’s next.”
Fifa said it is aware of Platini’s questioning, but added that it is “not in a position to comment further.”
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