Michel Platini arrived at the Court of Arbitration for Sport yesterday pledging to “tell the truth, only the truth” at his appeal against a 90-day Fifa ban.
The suspended Uefa president wants CAS to freeze his ban by Friday, allowing him to resume campaigning for the Fifa presidency ahead of the election on 26 February. It would also allow the former France captain to attend the 2016 European Championship draw on Saturday in Paris.
Platini was the clear favourite to succeed Sepp Blatter as Fifa president until they were quizzed by Swiss authorities on 25 September over a $2 million payment to the Frenchman from Fifa in 2011.
“My lawyers have done a very good job,” Platini said in French after leaving the court building in Lausanne following a two-hour hearing. “You know that I don’t like injustices. I hope that I was well heard today.”
Platini and Blatter face possible life bans when they appear before the Fifa ethics committee at the governing body’s headquarters in Zurich next week. The case centres on the payment and timing of the $2 million that Blatter approved for Platini in 2011 as backdated salary. Platini was a presidential adviser to Blatter from 1998-2002.
Both deny wrongdoing, but acknowledge there was only a verbal agreement which they say is valid under Swiss law.
Still, Fifa was not required to pay Platini when more than five years elapsed since the work was completed.
The timing of the payment, which was not disclosed to the Fifa and Uefa executive committees, also raised suspicion. It came as Blatter was preparing for a presidential election challenge by Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar. During the campaign, Bin Hammam said he was ready to discuss a power-sharing deal with Platini as a condition of securing European votes.
Led by Platini, Uefa urged its voting members weeks before the June 2011 election to side with Blatter, who was elected unopposed when Bin Hammam was implicated in a bribery scandal.
Platini could return to CAS in January for a further appeal if the Fifa ethics committee sanctions him for offences ranging from bribery and conflicts of interest to breaching confidentiality rules.
He has discussed details of evidence in the case in media interviews and appeared to break terms of the ban by entering Uefa headquarters in Nyon – for a minute’s silence after terror attacks on Paris – and Uefa issuing statements and news updates on his behalf.
The ethics panel has said it hopes to return verdicts on Platini and Blatter before Christmas.
Blatter has not yet appealed his provisional ban at CAS.
In his latest television interview, aired by German broadcaster ARD on Monday, Blatter compared the Fifa ethics committee’s work to religious persecution during the Inquisition.