Football: Michel Platini vows to tell 'truth' at ban appeal

UEFA President Michel Platini smiles as he arrives with his counsel Thomas Clay (left) for a hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland on Dec 8, 2015.
UEFA President Michel Platini smiles as he arrives with his counsel Thomas Clay (left) for a hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland on Dec 8, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

LAUSANNE (AFP) - Fifa vice-president Michel Platini vowed to tell "nothing but the truth" before appearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in a bid to halt a 90-day suspension by football's world body.

The appeal is part of a campaign by the 60-year-old Frenchman to get back into the election for a new leader of scandal-tainted Fifa to be held on Feb 26.

Platini appeared before the CAS tribunal in Lausanne with his lawyers in a bid to get the suspension ordered in October provisionally lifted.

"I will say nothing more than I have already told you: the truth, all the truth and nothing but the truth," Platini told reporters with a half smile before entering the tribunal.

He was accompanied by his Paris-based lawyers Thibaud d'Ales and Thomas Clay. Fifa was represented by Swiss lawyer Antonio Rigozzi.

Sport's highest appeal court has promised a decision by Friday "at the latest." Fifa's ethics committee suspended the boss of European confederation UEFA in October after he was linked to a criminal probe by Swiss prosecutors.

According to Platini's lawyers, Fifa's ethics watchdog wants the French football legend banned for life.

Platini has gone to CAS in a bid to get the suspension temporarily lifted. The Frenchman and Fifa president Sepp Blatter will appear before a Fifa appeal committee on Dec 16 and 18 for the main challenge against their 90-day suspensions.

Blatter is the target of a criminal mismanagement investigation by Swiss prosecutors. Platini has been questioned over a two million Swiss france (S$2.8 million) payment he received from Fifa in 2011 for work done a decade earlier.

Both men deny any wrongdoing, insisting there was an oral contract for the consultancy work on Fifa's international calendar.

Platini plans to use a 1998 UEFA document to back his case that he had a deal with FIFA.

The document, seen by AFP on Tuesday, says that Blatter had announced during his campaign for the FIFA presidency in 1998 that Platini "would be the future sports director of Fifa. Platini would therefore become an employee of Fifa."

The document even adds: "One has to have doubts about Platini's qualifications as sporting director, which would require him to manage all sports related matters, including competitions and to guide the personnel in question." Platini only became UEFA president in 2007.

Platini's entourage say the document is proof that there was "nothing underhand" about the deal between Blatter and Platini "and that it was well known to world football's top leaders." The FIFA suspension has prevented Platini taking part in the campaign for the leadership of the crisis-stricken world body.

The current suspension would finish on Jan 5 but if that is lifted by the FIFA watchdog, he would then have to pass an integrity test.

Five candidates - Asia's football chief Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, UEFA secretary general Gianni Infantino, former FIFA vice president Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan, South African business tycoon Tokyo Sexwale and former Fifa official Jerome Champagne of France - have been campaigning for months.

Infantino has said he would stand down if Platini is allowed to run in the election.

If the CAS does lift the Fifa suspension, Platini will at least be allowed to attend the draw for the 2016 European Championships in Paris on Saturday. Euro 2016 will be in France next June.

"For me, it is a lot more important to know if he (Platini) will be at the Euro than (Karim) Benzema," said chief organiser Jacques Lambert.

"We have been preparing this event for five years with Michel Platini, the UEFA president." Star striker Benzema could be kicked out of the French team after he was charged with complicity over a bid to blackmail teammate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex-tape.