26 Sep 2015

Fifa allegations: now questions are mounting for Michel Platini too

There is deep unease in the corridors of Uefa that the alleged rot in Fifa has infected them too.

A senior football official familiar with events of the last few days – and indeed years – tells me the only way for world football to be successfully reformed is for the whole apparatus to be dismantled, and the money-making parts hived off from governance and decision-making.

As questions are mounting for Sepp Blatter. so they are for his would-be successor Michel Platini.

UEFA President Platini attends a news conference after the draw for the 2015/2016 UEFA Europa League soccer competition at Monaco's Grimaldi Forum in Monte Carlo

Eyebrows have long been raised at Platini’s support for the Qatar World Cup – bids for which are currently being investigated by the Swiss attorney general.

Now the AG accuses Blatter of making a “disloyal payment” to Platini of 2m Swiss francs (£1.3m) . This was in 2011 – and according to the Swiss authorities was paid for work apparently undertaken a decade earlier.

It arguably doesn’t take an attorney general to conclude that this is somewhat unusual – even in the opaque world of football finance.

Coincidentally, the 2m payment was around the time Blatter was seeking re-election for FIFA president.

In March of that year at the Uefa congress in Paris, Platini had been aggressively campaigning among for a presidential bid of his own.

One insider familiar with events at the time told me many Uefa officials were then confounded when he abandoned his campaign and switched his support to Blatter.

UEFA President Platini congratulates FIFA President Blatter after he was re-elected at the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich

But his statement suggests nothing should be read into this apparent volte-face Around the time of the £2m payment in question.

The Swiss have asked Platini for answers about this payment, and Platini has told them he’s only too happy to provide them.

He is, after all, now a Swiss resident and, he said in his statement yesterday, they therefore know where to find him.

He also said in the statement: “Regarding the payment that was made to me, I wish to state that this amount relates to work which I carried out under a contract with Fifa and I was pleased to have been able to clarify all matters relating to this with the authorities.”

It seems logical that the Swiss will also ask if he paid tax on this fee. They may also ask why it took Fifa a decade to pay him.

And indeed, they may also want to know if he was remunerated at the time – back in 1999 – when he was not yet a Swiss resident.

Which, according to a source familiar with Fifa finances, raises questions about whether the money was put into  a discreet Swiss bank account – an account to which the attorney general will be able to request access.

The upshot is this invites the wrong kind of questions about the man who would be Fifa king.

Prince Ali bin Hussein of Jordan, the stalking horse put up by Uefa to challenge blatter at last may’s presidential election, now looks like a genuine reform contender for the crown.

He said today: “We have to accept that changing FIFA is not a matter of choice; it has already changed, shaken to its very core by the scandals that have decimated our Governing Body and cast a cloud over the entire organisation.

That Blatter is accused of making a disloyal payment to a senior European official inevitably puts the spotlight on its recipient.

One Michel Platini.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that it’s not just Fifa that needs to change, but the entire football edifice.

Follow @kemenzerem on Twitter