The Scottish Football Association was left in an embarrassing position yesterday when the man it supported to be the next Fifa president, Michel Platini, was handed an eight-year football ban.
The Uefa president has been suspended from all football-related activities following an ethics investigation.
Outgoing Fifa president Sepp Blatter was sanctioned along with Platini, who was firmly backed by the SFA to succeed the Swiss after an election early next year. But Platini’s hopes have effectively been ended by yesterday’s judgment by Fifa’s ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, leaving the SFA in limbo on the issue of their preferred presidential candidate ahead of February’s elections.
As recently as August this year, Stewart Regan, the SFA chief executive, threw his weight behind Platini, whom he described as being “a breath of fresh air” following a series of controversies connected to the decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.
He was not alone in backing the former France international footballer, with others associations, including the English FA, also declaring its support for Platini. But the English FA suspended its support in October. Last night chairman Greg Dyke said: “We were clearly all very disappointed when all this came out. We didn’t know.
“I would think is the end for both him and Blatter.”
But while reports suggest the SFA will now switch its backing to Gianni Infantino, Uefa’s general secretary, a statement issued yesterday confirmed only that “fundamental” change was needed at the top of the world game to restore “trust and integrity”.
Cognisant of Blatter and Platini’s intention to appeal yesterday’s judgment, the SFA said it would be “inappropriate” to comment further, despite the elections being only weeks away. Following Platini’s suspension, Infantino is now one of six candidates to replace 79-year-old Blatter.
“The Scottish FA notes the sanctions imposed on Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini by the adjudicatory chamber of Fifa’s independent Ethics Committee,” read a statement yesterday afternoon.
“Given that grounds of appeal remain open to both individuals, it would be inappropriate to comment any further than to say today’s decision only reinforces the need for a fundamental change in governance at a global level in order to rebuild the trust and integrity of football,” it added.
With Platini, 60, now out of the equation, the other candidates joining Infantino in the running are Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan, Liberian FA president Musa Bility, Asian Football Confederation president Sheikh Salman, former diplomat Jerome Champagne and South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale.
A “disloyal payment” of 2 million Swiss francs (£1.3 million) made to Platini in 2011 and signed off by Blatter was the source of this investigation.
Both men have denied wrongdoing and intend to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.