Payout not formal, Platini confirms

Uefa chief accuses Blatter of seeking to kill him politically over US$2 million payment

LONDON • European football chief Michel Platini has admitted that he had no written contract for a US$2 million (S$2.8 million) payment from Fifa president Sepp Blatter, as his chances of replacing the Swiss veteran as head of the world body nosedived ahead of a key Fifa council meeting in Zurich today.

In his first interview since being handed a 90-day suspension from all football-related activities by Fifa, the former star player for France and Juventus told yesterday's edition of Le Monde that, although he had nothing in writing, he had made a "man to man" agreement with Blatter over the contested remuneration.

Blatter, who is also serving a 90-day suspension amid a corruption scandal engulfing football, said last week that the payment made to Platini in 2011 for consultancy work carried out years previously was "a gentleman's agreement".

Platini said the work included reform of the global competitions calendar, work on subsidies for the poorest federations, funding for football projects and a lot of travel with Blatter.

He told Le Monde that he felt Blatter was seeking to "kill me politically" over the payment. The Frenchman added that he felt "shame at being dragged through the mud".

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'How much do you want?', asked Blatter.

I answer, 'A million'... He responds, 'Okay, one million Swiss francs per year.'''

MICHEL PLATINI on how his payment for services to Fifa was arrived at

Neither has been able to fully explain the nine-year delay in being paid for the work Platini carried out as Blatter's technical adviser from 1999 to 2002.

"The story may seem surprising, but that is that," Platini said. "In 1998, I was president of the World Cup organising committee and a new Fifa president was due to be elected.

"I am in Singapore and Blatter wants to see me in his room. He immediately throws me - 'So, here, we go or not?' He told me that (former Fifa president Joao) Havelange said to him, 'Blatter and Platini, president and secretary-general, is a very elegant solution'. Only for me, it does not interest me.

"I am (organising) the World Cup. I do not see (it as a position for) me. Blatter then decided to say, 'I will put myself forward, but I need you. See you in two months.'

"He asked me to be his adviser on football. It was agreed. 'How much do you want?', asked Blatter. I answer, 'A million.' 'Of what?' 'From what you want - roubles, books, dollars?'. At this time, there is not yet the euro. He responds, 'Okay, one million Swiss francs per year.' "

Blatter was duly elected to head Fifa and Platini said: "I started working in September."

He said several months passed with no payment to him. He asked at the time if there was a problem. Blatter said it was difficult to pay him three times the 300,000 Swiss francs that Fifa's secretary-general was earning at the time. Quoting Blatter, Platini said: " 'So we will draw up a contract for 300,000 Swiss francs and give you the balance later.' But later never came."

Fifa's congress is due to meet on Feb 26 to elect a new president. Platini played down the impact of the debate over the 2011 payment on his election chances. "I don't think I've lost many votes, and people who know me know I can look at myself in the mirror. I'm bullet-proof."

Blatter and Platini will both be banned from attending today's meeting, which is expected to consider postponing the presidential election.

Also yesterday, German prosecutors said they were looking into, but not yet formally investigating, claims that Germany bribed football officials to win the right to host the 2006 World Cup.

"This could be about corruption, fraud or breach of trust," Frankfurt chief prosecutor Nadja Niesen told SID sports news agency. "We will examine the available documents. But we are still at the very beginning and have not yet launched an investigation. This could happen if we can confirm there is initial cause for suspicion."

Germany won the right to host the 2006 World Cup by beating South Africa by 12 votes to 11 after New Zealand's Charles Dempsey abstained in the final ballot. On Friday, Der Spiegel weekly published a report claiming that the German Football Association had a slush fund to buy votes.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2015, with the headline 'Payout not formal, Platini confirms'. Print Edition | Subscribe