Former UEFA President Michel Platini has been arrested by French anti-corruption authorities in connection with the investigation into FIFA’s decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.
Platini’s arrest, first reported by the French website Mediapart, is the biggest move in a two-year investigation by France’s financial prosecutor services (PNF).
The 2018 and 2022 World Cups were awarded to Russia and Qatar, respectively, by FIFA’s executive committee in December 2010. The decision to give Qatar the 2022 tournament over bids from the USA, Australia, South Korea and Japan has always been seen as a controversial one.
Platini, though his public relations team, denies any wrongdoing related to the vote, telling the Associated Press he is “absolutely confident” and has “strictly nothing to reproach himself with”.
The 63-year-old former FIFA vice-president and one-time heir to Sepp Blatter as the next FIFA president is currently serving the final few months of a four-year ban by football’s governing body.
The three-time European Footballer of the Year was originally suspended for eight years by FIFA for accepting a $2 million payment agreed verbally with Blatter and executed in 2011 after the Qatar vote. Many believe Blatter was paying off Platini for his help in landing Qatar the World Cup. Both men deny that, saying it was for Platini’s work as an adviser for FIFA up until 2002. Blatter was also banned by FIFA for the payment.
Platini’s eight-year ban was reduced to six years by a FIFA appeals committee and then reduced to four years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in May 2016. While CAS reduced Platini’s ban, they rejected his appeal saying the severe sanction was justified because of Platini’s standing in world football at the time – UEFA president, FIFA vice president – as well as “the absence of any repentance and the impact that this matter has had on FIFA’s reputation”.
Platini quit UEFA after the CAS decision. He will complete his four-year ban this October.
Photo: Getty Images