Stewart Regan: Platini can give Scots a voice at Fifa

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STEWART REGAN believes that Scotland will have a bigger influence on world football governance if Michel Platini wins the race to become the new president of Fifa.

The Scottish FA this week formally endorsed the candidacy of current Uefa president Platini to succeed Sepp Blatter when the veteran Swiss administrator finally steps down in February next year.

Michel Platini, presenting the Super Cup to Barcelona in Tbilisi, has been president of Uefa since 2007. Picture: Ivan Sekretarev/AP

Michel Platini, presenting the Super Cup to Barcelona in Tbilisi, has been president of Uefa since 2007. Picture: Ivan Sekretarev/AP

Scottish FA chief executive Regan insists Platini is the right man to bring reform to crisis-torn Fifa which is currently at the centre of criminal investigations into alleged corruption among senior officials and misconduct in the bidding processes to stage the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals tournaments.

Platini’s suitability has been questioned by Prince Ali of Jordan, who stood unsuccessfully against Blatter in the last presidential election, and the 60-year-old Frenchman is regarded by many as having been too close to Blatter in the past. Prince Ali has yet to decide if he will stand for election again, while former Fifa vice-president Chung Mong-joon is expected to announce his candidacy next Monday.

But, even before the 26 October deadline for candidates to declare themselves, Regan is convinced Platini represents the best option for Scotland.

“You take people as you find them and he [Platini] has been a very strong supporter of Scotland and Scottish football over the years,” said Regan. “He is a strong supporter of smaller nations. What he has done is open up communication channels to make sure you don’t have to be one of the big countries to have a voice around the table.

“Everybody is involved, we have all been included in consultation exercises where we are asked our opinions. That’s important in football.

“Too often, particularly at Fifa level, it is about what the bigger countries want. So it is important that we maintain that voice. Michel Platini will act in the best interest of countries like Scotland.

“I don’t think Scotland have had a voice in Fifa the way we have a voice in Uefa. Perhaps we were very lucky because of [former SFA chief executive] David Taylor’s role in Uefa, that certainly helped. We have also been represented on a number of key committees in Uefa.

“Platini wants to operate a similar model at Fifa level. People who have something to offer will be encouraged to get involved.

“We know that Fifa needs reform. There needs to be transparency and openness around how decisions are made.

“If decisions are controversial, then we need to have the opportunity to discuss them. We haven’t really had that with Fifa. We will get it with Michel Platini if he is successful.

“We don’t know who the other runners and riders will be yet. But, at this stage, we feel Michel Platini is a stand-out candidate. In terms of looking around at who could do that job, we feel he is the man.”

Platini, who has been Uefa president since 2007, previously stepped aside from challenging Blatter for the Fifa role in 2011 when the 79-year-old pledged it would be his final term of office.

“At the time, Platini was seen as the person who could take Fifa forward,” added Regan. “But he stood aside and then Sepp Blatter changed his mind. There was a lot of frustration about that. Platini decided not to go head to head against Blatter because he knew he couldn’t get the support. But now that Blatter has agreed to step aside, Platini has put his hat in the ring. He has a lot of support from countries I have spoken to across Europe.

“He is very well respected by his staff and well respected by other countries. You need someone who can lead and who can commit to change. Fifa needs changing and we feel he is the man to do it.”

Regan’s own dealings with Blatter have largely come through Scotland’s place on the International Football Association Board, which administers the laws of the game.

“I’ve also been involved with him through Fifa Congresses, but I’ve not had a lot of contact with him in terms of day-to-day working,” said Regan.

“He [Blatter] is a pleasant enough guy. He is keen to do what he thinks is right. But I don’t think we have the voice in Fifa under him that we would have with Platini.”

The current Fifa crisis has erupted eight years after former SFA president John McBeth lost his role as Fifa vice-president after describing Blatter as a “tricky customer” and suggesting corruption was rife within world football.

“That was before my time,” said Regan. “It was a different era. Blatter was challenged without perhaps any evidence or proof at the time. Fifa reacted as they did and John carried the can for it. Looking back now, John will probably feel vindicated.”