PARIS • Suspended Uefa chief Michel Platini vowed to clear his name of sleaze allegations and slammed outgoing Fifa president Sepp Blatter, even as he pulled out of the race to lead football's world body.
Platini told French sports newspaper L'Equipe that he would concentrate on fighting his eight-year ban from football, as he abandons his bid to contest the Fifa election on Feb 26.
"I will not present myself for the presidency of Fifa. I am withdrawing my candidature," he said, in an interview published yesterday.
"I no longer have the time nor the means to go to the voters, to meet people, to fight against the other candidates.
"In withdrawing, I am dedicating myself to my defence."
Platini and Blatter were suspended for eight years by Fifa's ethics committee over a US$2 million (S$2.9 million) payment made to Platini in 2011 for work carried out from 1999 to 2002.
The 60-year-old Platini said his ban has made it impossible for him to put together a campaign to take on the Fifa presidency.
He laid the blame for his plight squarely at the door of Blatter, 79, claiming that the veteran Swiss wanted his "scalp".
"Everything started because of Blatter, who wanted my head, who did not want me to (lead) Fifa," he said. "He said often that I would be his final scalp, but he fell at the same time as me."
The former France national team captain said he will concentrate his resources on an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the Fifa electoral commission which "claimed that I had falsified accounts".
He said: "I have fought like I have always fought in my life but I have not been given the opportunity to compete this time round."
Platini's decision to give up on his dream of becoming Fifa president leaves the five declared candidates: Sheikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain, South African politician Tokyo Sexwale, Prince Ali Al Hussein of Jordan, Uefa general secretary Gianni Infantino and Jerome Champagne, former Fifa deputy general secretary.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN