Geneva – 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. Both 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 was quoted as telling German publication Die Zeit.