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Platini to stay in FIFA race despite new investigation

By Agence France-Presse in Paris | China Daily | Updated: 2015-10-01 07:26

UEFA president Michel Platini has insisted he will stay in the race for the FIFA presidency despite being named in a Swiss criminal investigation into the world soccer body.

The French soccer legend told AFP on Tuesday he had done "nothing wrong" and defended a $2 million payment approved by FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

Platini, who had been favorite to win an election for the FIFA presidency in February, spoke out amid reports he and Blatter will soon be put under investigation by FIFA's independent ethics committee.

Platini to stay in FIFA race despite new investigation

FIFA president Sepp Blatter drives his car into the garage of the FIFA headquarters on his way to work in Zurich, Switzerland, on Tuesday. Blatter was questioned by Swiss investigators on Friday about why FIFA paid 2 million Swiss francs (about $2 million) to UEFA president Michel Platini in 2011 for work supposedly carried out at least nine years earlier. Michael Probst / AP

"I am still determined to present myself as a candidate for the FIFA presidency so I can introduce the governance reforms that are necessary to restore the order and credibility to world football," Platini said.

Swiss prosecutors say they are investigating whether Blatter approved a "disloyal" two million Swiss franc ($2 million) payment to Platini, to FIFA's prejudice.

The money was paid for work carried out between 1998 and 2002 but the payment was only made in 2011. The Frenchman, who has led UEFA since 2007, said the delay was because FIFA could not afford to pay him earlier.

"There is no doubt about my integrity. I have done nothing wrong. That is why I have made myself fully available to cooperate with the relevant bodies and authorities to clarify whatever may be necessary," he said.

"I was employed by FIFA as a special adviser to president Sepp Blatter, working on various matters related to football, such as the international football calendar. It was a full-time job," Platini said.

'FIFA could not pay'

"Like I explained to the Swiss authorities, I received only part of the agreed salary between 1998 to 2002.

"This occurred because, at the time, FIFA informed me that they would not be able to pay me the total agreed amount."

Platini said all of the money received was "declared to the pertinent authorities".

The 60-year-old Frenchman said he did not fear a suspension by the FIFA ethics committee "because I have done nothing wrong".

"I am calm and totally serene since I don't have reasons to be concerned," said Platini, who added he had received messages of support from around the world.

"I have known for a long time that I would be the target of many unfounded attacks and I am conscious that these attacks will continue until the FIFA elections take place."

Switzerland on Tuesday ordered the extradition of another fallen FIFA official and the world body's ethics committee ordered a life ban from soccer against former vice-president Jack Warner.

But South Korean tycoon Chung Mong-joon, a rival candidate to Platini in the FIFA race, called for a task force to run FIFA because of the "total meltdown" at the world body.

He said FIFA should organize an "emergency congress" to set up the task force leadership.

"The most urgent task at hand is to root out corruption from within FIFA," he said. "Justice must be served."

FIFA has been in its worse crisis since US prosecutors charged 14 FIFA officials and sports business executives in May over involvement in more than $150 million of bribes.

Four days after winning a fifth term in office on May 30, Blatter announced that he would stand down when a new election is held on February 26.

Life ban for Warner

The Swiss investigation - coming just days after FIFA suspended its secretary general Jerome Valcke over allegations of involvement in tickets sold at inflated prices - intensified pressure on remaining FIFA bosses.

The ethics committee on Tuesday ordered a life ban on 72-year-old Warner, who previously led CONCACAF, the confederation of North and Central America and the Caribbean.

"He was a key player in schemes involving the offer, acceptance, and receipt of undisclosed and illegal payments," said a FIFA statement.

Warner is one of the most prominent figures among the 14 facing charges in the United States.

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