FIFA president Sepp Blatter and UEFA archrival Michel Platini were to come face to face at an executive committee meeting of soccer’s world body yesterday as it confronts new corruption allegations.
The two are posturing ahead of declaring whether they will stand for FIFA’s leader in an election in May next year.
Media reports that former Qatari soccer boss Mohamed bin Hammam paid more than US$5 million to win support for Qatar’s campaign that won the 2022 World Cup have clouded the campaign.
Blatter is expected to announce at FIFA’s two-day annual congress starting on Tuesday that he will be a candidate for a fifth four-year term.
Platini has said he will announce later this year, after consulting federations, whether to stand for the world body post.
FIFA executive sources said the word has been spread amomg them to avoid confrontation at the executive meeting yesterday and the congress this week.
Accusations by the Sunday Times against Hammam were followed by the Daily Telegraph’s report of a “secret” meeting between the disgraced soccer official and Platini.
“Behind [this], there is someone, something, people who organize all that,” Platini said of the allegations against him in an interview with L’Equipe newspaper.
Platini said he has “no proof,” but that he believes “there are many interests at stake, those at FIFA, those who want to be there and those who hope to be there.”
In an interview with Swiss television last month, Blatter said he believed there had been lobbying from France for Qatar when it won the World Cup vote in 2010.
Platini has acknowledged that he voted for Qatar in the 2010 vote and that he attended a private lunch with then-French president Nicolas Sarkozy at which senior Qatari officials were present. However, he insists he did not know the Qataris would be at the meeting and that no-one had influenced his vote on 2022.