Tue, Aug 18, 2015 - Page 19 News List

UEFA urges FIFA probe into alleged Platini smear effort

AP, GENEVA, Switzerland

European soccer body UEFA has complained to FIFA about an alleged attempt to discredit UEFA president Michel Platini, who is currently the favorite to succeed FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

A newspaper-style article sent anonymously this month to German-language media outlets was titled “Platini: Leichen im Keller” — (Platini: Skeletons in the closet).

UEFA secretary-general Gianni Infantino on Sunday told reporters that he had asked FIFA to investigate if the document came from its headquarters, as a rift deepens between former allies Blatter and Platini.

“I have written to [FIFA secretary-general] Jerome Valcke and asked FIFA to investigate it,” Infantino said.

Infantino said the letter was also sent to FIFA Ethics Committee investigator Cornel Borbely and FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee chairman Domenico Scala, who is overseeing next year’s Feb. 26 election to appoint Blatter’s successor.

German and Swiss newspapers have written about the Platini document being circulated although have not published the article of nearly 1,400 words, which has been seen by reporters.

Swiss daily Tages Anzeiger said a FIFA staffer had acknowledged being a co-author of the document.

Blatter talked about his strained relations with Platini in an interview published on Saturday in Dutch daily De Volkskrant.

Suggesting there was “an anti-FIFA virus in Nyon,” the Swiss town where UEFA is based, Blatter said his friendship with Platini turned sour after his former protege was elected to lead European football in 2007.

Blatter told reporters he felt snubbed by UEFA’s VIP seating arrangements at the 2008 European Championships for the opening match played in Vienna, Austria.

The same anecdote is repeated in the Platini document sent to German-speaking media.

The article suggests Platini’s links to Qatar mean he should not be FIFA president. He voted for the 2022 World Cup host and his son, who is a lawyer, was subsequently hired by the Qatari sovereign wealth fund that owns French football team Paris Saint-Germain.

“He was one of Europe’s most skillful players of all time,” the article says of the former French player. “But is he great enough to be FIFA President? Anyone taking one look in the direction of Qatar can have only one answer: No.”

Platini’s public opposition to Blatter grew after the 79-year-old president reneged on a 2011 promise to stand aside at this year’s election.

When US and Swiss federal investigations of corruption in international soccer were unleashed on FIFA on May 27, Platini urged Blatter not to contest the election scheduled two days later. Blatter refused and won a fifth four-year term against FIFA vice president Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan.

Blatter announced his planned resignation four days later, under pressure from the criminal cases, even though he is not currently implicated in either investigation.

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