By Paul Nicholson
September 9 – With his ban from football ending October 7, former UEFA president Michel Platini has told Swiss television channel RTS that he is planning his return, though he does not know where or in what role.
It is a promise of return that comes with a level of bitterness and threat, particularly towards his former number two at UEFA, now FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who he has repeatedly described as “not credible” as FIFA president and who he suspects was part of the conspiracy that saw him banned, leaving a path for him to the top of the world federation and a crown that for many years looked to have been lined up for Platini.
Platini was banned from all football-related activities in 2015 for receiving a CHF 2million Swiss payment from ex-FIFA chief Sepp Blatter as the second part of a 10-year delayed payment for supposed consulting work carried out for FIFA. The initial ban was for eight years but was reduced first to six year and then to four.
In a TV interview with RTS, Platini said: “I will be back. I don’t know where, I don’t know how. I can’t stay on the suspension, even if it’s a suspension made by idiots,” Platini said.
“I was a victim of a form of a plot, yes, totally, between those at FIFA and those at the Swiss public ministry. There was an agreement between FIFA and them to sack me. I’m not going to say it was a plot by the Swiss state.”
The TV interview also questioned him over the repeatedly returning controversy around his vote for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup and a lunch 10 days before the vote in November 2010 with French president Nicolas Sarkozy. The lunch was also attended by then Crown Prince (now Emir) of Qatar, Tamim Ben Hamad Al-Thani, and Sheikh Hamad Ben Jassem, then prime minister and foreign minister of Qatar.
It is a lunch, the discussion at which, has also interested France’s Central Office for Combating Corruption and Financial and Tax Crimes (OCLCIFF) who pulled Platini in for an interview in June that lasted 15-hours.
Platini maintains that he had already told Sarkozy – who was lobbying him to vote for Qatar – that he would vote for Qatar, though it is understood by Le Monde he had originally intended to vote for the US.
Questions had also centred on the sale of PSG to the Qatar Sports Investments fund in June 2011, eight months after the lunch, for €76 million. Platini had been opposed to the acquisition but the club’s American hedge fund owners were represented in France by Sébastien Bazin, a friend of Sarkozy.
In the interview with RTS, Platini said that the Qatar World Cup “will be Disneyland”. So not a World Cup of football then?
Platini certainly carries a lot of football history, with his playing record increasingly looking to be the most distinguished part of it. He also carries a lot of baggage. Within that baggage there looks likely to be a number of time bombs that the current world football leadership would rather not go off.
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