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Recently seen as the man to save Fifa, Michel Platini is now on very thin ice

The Frenchman has so far only succeeded in arousing more suspicion with a far-fetched explanation for his involvement in latest controversy.

AND JUST LIKE that, the empire begins to crack.

Today’s edition of L’Equipe said it all: ‘Platini en danger’.

Platini

The Frenchman has been seen as the saviour of Fifa for a long time. A gifted player – stylish, suave and sophisticated, he stood out from the crowd. He was different.

And many thought his career as a football administrator was something similar. Until, the Swiss authorities revealed that he had received a ‘disloyal’ payment from Sepp Blatter in 2011 that had aroused suspicion. What made it sound more than a little odd was that the money was allegedly for work Platini had done for Fifa between 1998 and 2002.

Why had he gone so long without getting paid?

If you’re owed £1.35 million, are you really going to wait nine years? Many wanted answers. And when they finally came, Platini failed in his attempts to reassure those that suspect him of wrongdoing.

Like I explained to the Swiss authorities, I received only part of the agreed salary between 1998 to 2002. This occurred because at the time, Fifa informed me that they would not be able to pay me the total agreed amount. Of course all the monies received at the time were declared to the pertinent authorities.”

So, Platini’s reasoning is that the 9-year wait for payment was because Fifa, football’s international governing body, couldn’t afford it.

It took him five days to come up with his response – though, he claims he said the same thing to Swiss investigators last week.

Hungary FIFA Olympics The payment of £1.35 million to Platini has aroused suspicion within the office of the Swiss Attorney General. Source: Bela Szandelszky/AP/Press Association Images

Of course, Fifa’s official accounts say otherwise.

In fact, they say that from 1999-2002, the organisation made a profit of £78 million. In 2003, there was profit of £95.4 million. In 2004, it was £107 million. And it goes on and on. For Platini, to have little issue in waiting nine years for payment when the governing body was handsomely raking in huge profit would seem spectacularly patient and more than a little strange.

“Mr Blatter informed me when I started my role as his advisor that it was not initially possible to pay the totality of my salary because of FIFA’s financial situation at that time”, Platini told AFP.

I never doubted, however, that the remaining amount owed to me would be paid eventually, so I did not actively pursue it. I even put the matter to the side for a while, before finally requesting that the outstanding balance was paid in 2011.”

What the office of the Swiss Attorney General are clearly taken with is the significance of when Platini was eventually given the money: 2011.

Malaysia Soccer Asia Election Blatter and Mohamed bin Hammam - his challenger for the Fifa presidency in 2011. Source: Lai Seng Sin/AP/Press Association Images

Blatter was running for re-election at the time and did have a fresh challenger in the Qatari Mohamed bin Hammam. Ultimately, he was banished from Fifa after trying to bribe voters in the Caribbean along with the perennial shady figure of Jack Warner. But, when bin Hammam first entered the race, he seemed to have potential.

Was the payment from Blatter to Platini a little sweetener, to ensure Blatter had Uefa’s backing? Platini had been the head of European football’s governing body for four years at that stage, before successfully being re-elected in March 2011.

Had bin Hammam attempted to pay-off Platini before Blatter got to him?

There are so many questions. And Swiss authorities won’t stop until they get the answers they want.

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About the author:

Eoin O'Callaghan

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