Michel Platini

Michel Hidalgo
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Michel Hidalgo, who coached France to EURO 1984 glory, dies

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PARIS (AP) Michel Hidalgo, the coach who led France to the 1984 European Championship title and the 1982 World Cup semifinals, died on Thursday. He was 87.

The French Football Federation confirmed the death.

Hidalgo coached the national team from 1976-84 and led host France to its first major title at Euro 1984 with midfielder Michel Platini scoring nine goals.

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Les Bleus reached the World Cup semifinals two years earlier but lost to West Germany in a penalty shootout.

Soccer purists adored the way Hidalgo’s teams were almost fixated on creativity, even at the expense of defending. The midfield, led by Platini, was known as the “Magic Four” and was arguably the best in the world at the time. Alain Giresse, Jean Tigana and Bernard Genghini were the other three.

“I would like to express all my affection and my support to his wife Monique, to his family and all of those close to him,” Platini said in a statement. “As a coach, Michel lifted France to the summit of its art, with determination choosing the beautiful game and allowing each one of us to express all of our ability and individual talent.”

Hidalgo coached France in 75 games, behind only Raymond Domenech and current coach Didier Deschamps.

FFF president Noel Le Graet spoke of his “immense sadness and deep emotion” upon hearing of Hidalgo’s death.

“The federation, our football, are in grieving,” Le Graet said. “With his style of play, his personality and his exemplary passion, he contributed to our sport shining at international level and its popularity in France.”

During his playing days from 1952-66, Hidalgo was an attacking midfielder who scored regularly for Le Havre, Reims and Monaco.

He won French titles and French Cups as a player, and scored in the European Cup final when Reims lost to Real Madrid 4-3 in 1956. He put his club ahead 3-2 after the Spanish team rallied from a 2-0 deficit.

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Platini loses appeal of his four-year FIFA ban

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GENEVA — Michel Platini has lost his appeal at the European Court of Human Rights to overturn a four-year ban from soccer for taking a $2 million payment from FIFA.

The unanimous ruling by seven judges to declare Platini’s application inadmissible was published on Thursday by the court in Strasbourg, France.

Aspects of the France great and former UEFA president’s appeal were “manifestly ill-founded,” the court said in a statement.

“The court found in particular that, having regard to the seriousness of the misconduct, the senior position held by Mr. Platini in football’s governing bodies and the need to restore the reputation of the sport and of FIFA, the sanction did not appear excessive or arbitrary,” the court said.

It’s a fifth legal defeat for Platini after the evidence and fairness of the case was found proven by FIFA’s ethics and appeals committees, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and Switzerland’s supreme court.

The allegations that emerged against Platini in September 2015 ended his FIFA presidential campaign to succeed Sepp Blatter and removed him from office as UEFA president.

The former FIFA vice president now must pay soccer’s world body a fine of $62,800 to be eligible for an active role in soccer. Platini said in October he would not pay while the European ruling was pending.

Platini was linked to an advisory role with the French president of the global players’ union FIFPro, which distanced itself from the speculation in January.

The case related to a $2 million payment to Platini in 2011, authorized by FIFA’s then-president Blatter as uncontracted salary for work as an adviser a decade earlier. Blatter is serving a six-year ban.

Platini’s four-year ban, reduced from six at a 2016 appeal case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, expired in October.

The European court said Platini challenged the CAS judgment on three grounds: Right to a fair hearing, that FIFA rules had been used retrospectively against him, and that the ban was excessive.

Platini and Blatter are being pursued by FIFA to recover the $2 million through a civil court claim in Switzerland.

FIFA said in December any money recovered, plus interest, would be “fully channelled back into football development, which is where the money should have gone in the first place.”

In a separate legal suit announced last November, Platini is claiming up to $3 million from UEFA as salary and bonuses due in his contract as president.

Platini plans comeback, legal fight after 4-year FIFA ban

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NYON, Switzerland — Michel Platini is free to work in soccer again on Tuesday morning after his four-year ban by FIFA expires overnight.

The former UEFA president said Monday he is still unsure where and when he will return, and a comeback will likely force him to first pay FIFA a fine of 60,000 Swiss francs ($60,300) that is three years overdue.

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Platini told The Associated Press in an interview about his future plans: “I have some idea but it’s difficult to speak today.”

The 64-year-old Platini says he can “come back everywhere” but pointed out that the next elections for top roles at FIFA, UEFA and the French football association are “some years ahead.”

“I have time, if I come back to this” world, where he was once seen as the heir apparent to former FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

His current fight is still against the case of financial wrongdoing – and allegations linked to backdated FIFA salary and pension entitlement – that ended his bid to succeed Blatter. The charges were upheld so far by two FIFA judicial bodies, the Court of Arbitration for Sport and Switzerland’s supreme court.

Platini has challenged the Swiss federal ruling at the the European Court of Human Rights.

He says “that means I don’t pay this fine” while contesting the human rights case in Strasbourg in his native France.

That ongoing sense of injustice, and unpaid debt, could cause FIFA’s ethics committee to impede his return.

Platini suggests: “They will try to use what they want so that I don’t come back, I am sure.”

Soccer’s world body declined to comment Monday on its rules enforcing payment of fines.

FIFA did confirm that Blatter paid his fine of 50,000 Swiss francs ($50,250) first imposed in 2015.

Blatter is serving a six-year FIFA ban, upheld by CAS, for authorizing an uncontracted $2-million payment to Platini in 2011. Blatter also extended his former protege’s FIFA pension plan to add more than $1 million by 2015.

Platini released from custody after police questioning

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PARIS (AP) Former UEFA president Michel Platini was released from custody in the early hours of Wednesday after being questioned as part of a corruption investigation into the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

His communication team said that Platini’s detention ended at 12:30 a.m. local time.

Platini had denied any wrongdoing and French authorities did not announce any charges against the former France and Juventus player.

“It was long, but given the number of questions it could not be different,” Platini said after his release. “They asked me questions about the 2016 Euro, the World Cup in Russia, the World Cup in Qatar, the Paris Saint-Germain, FIFA.”�

Also questioned Tuesday were Sophie Dion, a sports adviser in former French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s administration, and Claude Gueant, the former secretary general of the Elysee presidential palace under Sarkozy.

Ahead of the FIFA vote, Sarkozy hosted a meeting in November 2010 that brought Platini together with Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, then the crown prince of Qatar and now its ruling emir. Al-Thani also owns the French soccer club Paris Saint-Germain, and Sarkozy frequently attends its games.

Qatar beat the long-favored United States 14 to 8 when FIFA selected the host country for the 2022 World Cup

As head of European soccer’s governing body UEFA, Platini was the continent’s top representative on the FIFA committee that picked Qatar.

French prosecutors are known to be investigating an array of winning bids for major sports events, including the 2018 World Cup, awarded to Russia, the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo and track and field world championships.

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Platini arrested as part of 2022 World Cup investigation

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PARIS (AP) Former UEFA president Michel Platini has been arrested in relation to the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, a judicial official said Tuesday.

Confirming a report by online news publication Mediapart, the official said Platini was taken into custody on Tuesday as part of the investigation into the awarding of the tournament. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation.

Platini, a former France soccer great, was being detained at the Anti-Corruption Office of the Judicial Police outside Paris. Claude Gueant, the former secretary general of the Elysee under former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, was also questioned by investigators as part of the probe but was not detained.

French financial prosecutors have been investigating the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and previously questioned former FIFA president Sepp Blatter. France’s financial prosecutor services opened the investigation on grounds of private corruption, criminal association, influence peddling and benefiting from influence peddling relating to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which were awarded to Russia and Qatar, respectively.

Platini’s lawyer and adviser did not immediately answer messages from The Associated Press seeking comments.

Much intrigue has centered on Platini’s decision to vote for Qatar.

Blatter, who was FIFA president at the time of the vote in 2010, blamed Platini for backing out of a secret “gentleman’s agreement” to award the 2022 tournament to the United States.

Platini told the AP in 2015 that he “might have told” American officials that he would vote for the United States bid. However, he changed his mind after a November 2010 meeting, hosted by then-President Nicolas Sarkozy at his official residence in Paris and Qatar’s crown prince, now Emir, Tamin bin Hamad al-Thani.

Platini has long insisted that the meeting did not influence his vote for Qatar less than two weeks later.

“Sarkozy never asked me to vote for Qatar, but I knew what would be good,” he told the AP in 2015.

But Blatter claimed in a 2015 interview with the Financial Times that Platini told him ahead of the World Cup vote: “I am no longer in your picture because I have been told by the head of state that we should consider the situation of France.”

Both Platini and Blatter were toppled from their positions of power at the top of soccer in 2015. Platini was banned by FIFA for financial misconduct in relation to a $2 million payment authorized by Blatter – a suspension due to expire in October.

Qatar’s methods to bring the World Cup to the Middle East for the first time have been subject to investigations by FIFA. American attorney Michael Garcia found that some of Qatar’s conduct “may not have met the standards” required by FIFA but concluded there was no “evidence of any improper activity by the bid team.”

AP Global Soccer Writer Rob Harris in Nice, France, contributed to this report.

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