GENEVA (REUTERS) - Uefa boss Michel Platini must come up with some answers over a 2 million Swiss franc payment from Fifa if he wants to remain in charge, the honorary president of Europe's football body said on Thursday as officials arrived for a crisis meeting.
Platini and Fifa president Sepp Blatter were suspended from football for 90 days by Fifa's ethics committee pending a full investigation into the 2011 payment he received for work completed nine years earlier.
Platini still hopes to stand in next February's vote to replace Blatter at the helm of Fifa, which has been beset by corruption allegations since 14 football officials and sports marketing officials were indicted by American prosecutors on May 27.
Former France midfielder Platini says the nine-year gap between the end of his work for Fifa as an adviser to Blatter and the payment was due to Fifa's financial situation.
Lennart Johansson, himself a former Uefa president, told reporters that it was important that the world's biggest sport was untainted.
"We cannot have people who are corrupted. That is important," he said on arrival at Geneva airport. "But I don't judge him yet. I have to have the facts on my table. He is one of my friends and I respect him as the president of Uefa. But, if this is true, things will happen."
Platini, who denies any wrongdoing, has appealed against the suspension and hopes to clear his name in time to stand in the Feb 26 election. The temporary ban from football means he cannot attend Thursday's meeting and his lawyers are expected to present his case.
Romanian football federation president Razvan Burleanu said Uefa should choose a new candidate for the Fifa election if Platini failed to offer a satisfactory explanation for the payment and discussions could start as early as Thursday.
"This is what we have to decide today. My point of view is for sure, we need a European candidate. I'm expecting to also have that on our agenda (today)," he said.
With Uefa's reputation now under the microscope, Johansson, its longest-serving president (1984-1991) said he was sad that the body's image had been damaged by the affair.
"I was president for 17 years and we never had anything like this, never. It is something I wouldn't believe until I face it now," he said.