Michel Platini

Getty Images

Platini released from custody after police questioning

Leave a comment

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.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Platini arrested as part of 2022 World Cup investigation

Getty Images
2 Comments

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.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Former FIFA official Michel Platini slams VAR

Getty Images
2 Comments

Disgraced former FIFA official Michel Platini has slammed Video Assistant Review (VAR) in a long interview with French publication L’Equipe.

Platini said VAR “does not bring justice to the game” and said it rendered the on-field official a “puppet.”

“Take the game between France and Croatia at the World Cup,” Platini said to L’Equipe. “The VAR was in use. Yet, on the first goal where France scored from a free kick, I did not think there was a foul by the Croatian team in the build up. Then, on the second goal, it is the VAR director who makes the call rather than the referee himself. The official on the field becomes like a puppet!”

It would seem that Platini’s issue with VAR is not its ability to improve the decision-making in games, but instead its growing pains in how fallible humans adjust to using the technology available to them. “It is always open to interpretation,” Platini said.

Platini continued to share his belief that VAR will open the game to a slippery slope of technology in the game. “Who knows, maybe tomorrow the captains and goalkeepers will have headphones and the Coaches will be able to talk to them and guide them during the game. By doing this, we’ll certainly kill football, like it’s already happened in cycling and F1. We have already killed the referees.”

Platini vows to return to soccer after “end of long nightmare”

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

PARIS (AP) Banned former UEFA President and FIFA vice president Michel Platini says he is planning to return to soccer after Swiss federal prosecutors confirmed he was not being charged in an investigation into possible financial wrongdoing.

[ MORE: Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool — Los Blancos make it three straight ]

Platini says in a statement it’s “the end of a long nightmare for my family and those close to me.”

Since September 2015, the former France midfielder had the status of “between a witness and an accused person” in criminal proceedings opened against then-FIFA President Sepp Blatter. No criminal case was ever opened against Platini.

The evidence related to Blatter authorizing FIFA to pay Platini $2 million in uncontracted back salary in 2011.

[ MORE: Ronaldo hints at Real Madrid exit | Bale does the same ]

FIFA’s ethics committee also investigated Platini’s request to FIFA for pension contributions he was not entitled to. It was agreed by Blatter and added more than $1 million to Platini’s retirement fund.

Platini was eventually banned for four years, through October 2019. Both he and Blatter denied wrongdoing but Court of Arbitration for Sport judges refused to overturn his ban and that of Blatter’s.

[ UCL FINAL: Player ratings | Three things we learned ]

The case meant Platini was removed from the UEFA presidency and he was barred from trying to succeed Blatter as FIFA president in 2016.

Platini, a former France captain and coach, says “I will come back: where, when, how? It’s too early to say. But I will come back into football.

“Because football is my life and I deny anyone the right to deprive me of my life,” the 62-year-old Platini says.

Platini admits FIFA schemed to keep France, Brazil apart in 1998 World Cup

Getty Images
4 Comments

Just when you thought FIFA couldn’t go any lower, disgraced former FIFA vice president (and France National Team legend) Michel Platini dropped a bombshell on Friday.

Platini told radio station France Bleu that FIFA and the France World Cup organizing committee set up a “little scam” to ensure that France and Brazil were on opposite sides of the bracket, ensuring a path to the final for both teams. Brazil and France both needed wins on penalty kicks to make it to the finals after cruising through the group stage but France ended up winning its first – and so far only – World Cup on home soil.

“When we organized the calendar, we did a little trickery,” Platini said. “If we finished first in the group and Brazil finished first, we could not meet before the final.”

At the time, there were eight seeded teams in the tournament. While it was supposed to be random as to where each of the seeded teams ended up, France ended up in Group C and Brazil in Group A, and as long as both finished first in the group, they’d be on opposite sides of the knockout stage.

“We did not get bored for six years to organize the World Cup to not do some little shenanigans,” Platini said. “You think that the others did not do it for their World Cup France-Brazil in the final, it was the dream of everyone.”

This jaw-dropping statement was perfectly in line with Sepp Blatter’s FIFA, which allowed countless scandals, fraud and corruption to take place under his watch.