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UEFA backing on the line for Platini

By Associated Press In Geneva | China Daily | Updated: 2015-10-16 08:14

A week after receiving the resounding backing of his UEFA colleagues, Michel Platini could discover that support for him has cooled after European soccer leaders discuss the suspended president's ethics case on Thursday.

The UEFA president is battling to salvage his reputation after being provisionally banned for at least 90 days last week by FIFA's ethics judge, along with FIFA president Sepp Blatter, pending the outcome of an investigation into a 2011 payment to the former France captain. Blatter and Platini deny any wrongdoing.

Platini still hopes he can clear his name in time to stand in the emergency FIFA presidential election in February, even though he is expected to be declared ineligible once the candidate integrity checks are conducted after Oct 26.

A delay to the election, which could be agreed by FIFA's executive committee on Tuesday, could assist Platini. But rival contender Prince Ali bin al-Hussein warned on Wednesday that delaying the election would further discredit scandal-hit FIFA and deepen the instability.

The high-profile suspensions last week were imposed because FIFA ethics investigators are yet to be convinced that the payment of 2 million Swiss francs (about $2 million) from Blatter to Platini was legitimate.

No written contract exists for the transaction, which Platini claims was salary owed to him from his work as Blatter's adviser between 1998 and 2002, but was only requested in 2011.

The payment is also the subject of a Swiss criminal investigation in which Blatter is a suspect.

"This case is like a backpack that could force (Platini) to his knees," German federation president Wolfgang Niersbach told Die Zeit magazine.

Niersbach is a member of the UEFA executive committee, which said last week that it "stands fully behind" Platini and has "full confidence" in him.

Allan Hansen was the first member of UEFA's ruling board to break ranks on Monday by telling Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet that if there was no written contract for the disputed payment "we can no longer support him."

Hansen also sits on FIFA's audit and compliance panel so is likely to have deep knowledge of the case when UEFA meets on Thursday and Platini's position is scrutinized.

UEFA senior vice-president Angel Maria Villar is set to chair the meetings on Thursday - first with the executives and then with all 54 member nations.

But Villar, the head of the Spanish federation, remains at risk of sanctions himself from a separate investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

UEFA has resisted appointing Villar as acting president as required by the statues, with Platini unable to carry out his duties. FIFA, however, is under the temporary leadership of Issa Hayatou, who is due to arrive this week at the Zurich headquarters for the first time since becoming acting president.

Hayatou, the head of African soccer, has already ruled out standing in the election, which is scheduled for Feb 26.


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