Platini pledges to tell ‘only the truth’

Michel Platini
Michel Platini

LAUSANNE: Suspended UEFA President Michel Platini arrived at the Court of Arbitration for Sport yesterday pledging to “tell the truth, only the truth” as he appeals against a 90-day ban from FIFA. Platini hopes sport’s highest court will freeze the ban by Friday, which would allow the Frenchman to resume campaigning for the FIFA presidency ahead of the Feb. 26 election. It would also allow him to attend the 2016 European Championship draw on Saturday in Paris.

The CAS panel judging Platini’s appeal must decide whether a ban from duty pending a full ethics investigation was an excessive sanction. Platini was the clear favorite to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA president until they were quizzed by Swiss authorities on Sept. 25 over an alleged “disloyal payment” of $2 million to the Frenchman from FIFA in 2011. “I want to tell (the judges) more than what I told you (the media),” Platini said, smiling for reporters as he entered the court building.

Platini and Blatter face possible life bans when they appear before the FIFA ethics committee at the governing body’s headquarters in Zurich next week. The case centers on the payment and timing of the $2 million that Blatter approved should be paid to Platini in 2011 as backdated salary.

Platini was a presidential adviser to Blatter from 1998-2002.Both deny wrongdoing, but acknowledge there was only a verbal agreement which they say is valid under Swiss law. Still, FIFA was not required to pay Platini when more than five years elapsed since the work was completed. The timing of the payment, which was not disclosed to the FIFA and UEFA executive committees, also raised suspicion. It came as Blatter was preparing for a presidential election challenge by Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar. During the campaign, Bin Hammam acknowledged he was ready to discuss a power-sharing deal with Platini as a condition of securing European votes.

Platini-led UEFA urged its voting members weeks before the June 2011 election to side with Blatter, who was elected unopposed when Bin Hammam was implicated in a bribery scandal. Platini could return to CAS in January if the FIFA ethics committee sanctions him for offenses ranging from bribery and conflicts of interest to breaching confidentiality rules. Platini has been discussing details of the case in media interviews and appeared to continue some UEFA duties. The ethics panel has said it hopes to return verdicts on Platini and Blatter before Christmas. Blatter has not yet appealed his provisional ban at CAS. — AP

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