Euro 2016 a torment for banned Platini

LYON • He sits in his holiday home in Cassis, hiding away from the world, aggrieved and humiliated.

For Michel Platini, Euro 2016 was meant to be a month of back-slapping and veneration. Instead, it has become a torment.

Tonight, when all of France turns to the Stade Velodrome in Marseilles for the nation's biggest football match since the 1998 World Cup final, the agony will feel especially acute for the man who once called Euro 2016 "my child" but now finds himself estranged.

Platini, 61, will be just 20km away at his family villa near the sea; a short hop in one of those plush limousines that used to ferry him everywhere.

He has invites from Uefa, European football's governing body, and the French football federation to attend "Le Crunch" against Germany, promising him one of the best seats in the house despite his four-year ban from all football activity.

They are willing to welcome him to the venue where, in 1984, he pounced for the dramatic 119th-minute winner to overcome Portugal in the European Championship semi-final, running down the touchline in an iconic celebration.

  • 20km

  • Distance between Michel Platini's home and Marseille's Stade Velodrome, venue for the Germany-France clash.

But now he feels the pain of an outcast. A spokesman for Platini says that, barring a dramatic change of heart, he will not attend the game. He is not sure even if the most celebrated French footballer of all time will bring himself to watch Les Bleus.

Associates say that Platini has struggled to watch Euro 2016 matches on television, so intense is his desolation at being exiled from the game.

"The Euros is a nightmare for him," Jean-Philippe Leclaire, editor-in-chief of L'Equipe and Platini's biographer, says. "This is his tournament in his own country organised by the association that he was president of till only a short time ago.

"He should be in the best seat, but instead he has to hide away because he does not want to be an embarrassment. He cannot bear the humiliation. He cannot wait until July 11 when it's all over."

Platini should have been handing over the trophy to the winning team on Sunday in Paris, but instead that duty will fall to Angel Maria Villar Llona, a Uefa executive committee member for 24 years.

Uefa will soon move on without him, candidates to replace him as president will be submitting their names by July 20 before an election on Sept 14 at an extraordinary congress in Athens.

The organisation is being run on a day-to-day basis by Theodore Theodoridis, the interim general secretary, who confirmed that Platini had been invited to matches.

"He received a letter, addressed to him and his wife, at the start of the tournament saying they were welcome in a personal capacity," he confirmed.

Platini let it be known that he would not attend.

"But never say never. The patriotic spirit might bring him back," Theodoridis said.

However, rumours that Platini had turned up for France's victory over Albania in Marseilles proved mistaken and it would be a big surprise if he rocked up today.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2016, with the headline 'Euro 2016 a torment for banned Platini'. Print Edition | Subscribe