Michel Platini offered Sepp Blatter support after his £1.35m Fifa payment
Michel Platini indicated at Uefa’s congress in March 2011, weeks after he was paid £1.35m by Fifa on Sepp Blatter’s authority, that he would support Blatter’s candidacy in that year’s Fifa presidential elections. Although no statement was made at the congress, sources close to the discussions say Platini resolved to back Blatter, rather than the rival candidate, the Qatari Mohamed bin Hammam.
Blatter is understood to have promised Platini at the congress that if he won the election, it would be his final term as president. That would have left this year potentially clear for Platini to stand without having to rival Blatter, whereas if Bin Hammam had won in 2011, the Qatari could have been a successful incumbent in 2015 seeking a second term. Platini’s support as Uefa president was crucial to influencing the presidential votes of Uefa’s then 53 national football associations.
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The timing of Platini’s decision to support Blatter is likely to be central to the Fifa ethics committee investigation into whether the payment of the money, 2m Swiss francs, created an “actual or potential conflict of interest”, in breach of the organisation’s ethics code.
Uefa’s executive committee and representatives of its now 54 European associations meet in Nyon on Thursday to consider the position of Platini, who has been suspended by Fifa’s ethics committee for 90 days pending their investigation. The Swiss attorney general, Michael Lauber, has initiated criminal proceedings into the payment, questioning Blatter as a suspect for “criminal mismanagement” or “appropriation” and Platini as “a person providing information”. Article 19 of Fifa’s ethics code states that all football officials: “Shall avoid any situation that could lead to conflicts of interest. Conflicts of interest arise if persons bound by this Code have, or appear to have, private or personal interests that detract from their ability to perform their duties with integrity in an independent and purposeful manner.” Blatter and Platini have denied any wrongdoing, saying the payment related to work Platini did as Blatter’s adviser between 1998 and 2002. Platini is said to have had a written contract of employment for 300,000 Swiss francs a year, but no written contract to document an extra 500,000 annually which the men are understood to have said they agreed. Platini has said Blatter told him Fifa could not afford to pay him the extra money, then he decided to ask for it in late 2010, when relations between the one-time allies had soured.
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Platini was urged by some, including Bin Hammam, to stand as a rival to Blatter in 2011, but decided not to. The money was paid in February 2011. Then on 18 March 2011, Bin Hammam announced he would stand. Just four days later Bin Hammam and Blatter attended the Uefa congress in Paris, where Platini is understood to have privately agreed to support Blatter.
In May 2011, Platini and Uefa’s executive committee declared support for Blatter, and urged national associations to vote for him. Ultimately Blatter won an uncontested election when Bin Hammam pulled out following corruption allegations.