Uefa members split over support for Michel Platini

Michel Platini: Suspended. Picture: Getty
Michel Platini: Suspended. Picture: Getty
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UEFA’S members remain split over their support for Michel Platini with some associations backing an alternative candidate such as Holland’s Michael van Praag be put forward for the Fifa presidential election.

Platini’s lawyer yesterday addressed a meeting of Uefa’s 54 associations but failed to address the issue of a lack of written agreement for a £1.35 million payment to him from Fifa president Sepp Blatter which has led to the pair being provisionally banned. Uefa’s members issued a joint statement calling for a “rapid decision” by mid-November on the Fifa ethics case involving Platini and supporting the suspended Uefa president’s right to a fair hearing.

A number, however – including the four British associations – remained to be convinced by his explanations. There were suggestions at the meeting in Nyon that a “Plan B” be drawn up for if Platini is found guilty, which would see an alternative European candidate put forward for the Fifa election before the 26 October deadline. Uefa general secretary Gianni Infantino said afterwards that it had been agreed that the Fifa presidential election on 26 February “cannot and should not be delayed”.

He added: “There was a discussion if there should be a European candidate or not. This is something that will be discussed by Uefa representatives on the Fifa ExCo next week together with members of other confederations and we see if another from Europe comes up or someone from another confederation.”

Platini and outgoing Blatter have been provisionally banned for 90 days by Fifa’s ethics committee over the payment made in 2011. The two million Swiss franc fee was for work they say was done by the Frenchman more than nine years previously. The case is also being investigated by the Swiss attorney general.

In a statement following yesterday’s meeting, Uefa said: “We support Michel Platini’s right to a due process and a fair trial and to the opportunity to clear his name.

“We strongly call on all instances involved in the current process: Fifa’s ethics committee, Fifa’s appeal committee and ultimately the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to work very rapidly to ensure that there is a final decision on the merits of the case by, at the latest, mid-November 2015.”

Platini appears to be pinning his hopes on CAS rather than the ethics committee. Infantino said pointedly “we trust CAS” but only that “we hope the Fifa ethics committee is independent”.

Spain’s Angel Villar Llona chaired the meetings in his role as Uefa’s senior vice-president. He, too, is under investigation by Fifa’s ethics committee over the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process.

Meanwhile, Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan has formally submitted his candidature for the Fifa presidency. The prince, who lost to Blatter in the election in May, has secured the five nominations needed to run but is not making public the names of the associations.