Platini insists he is innocent of all charges after being questioned by police

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Platini was all smiles after his release in the early hours

Former UEFA president Michel Platini insists he is innocent of all charges after being questioned by police over the awarding of the 2022 World Cup.


Platini, 63, was taken into custody on Tuesday morning as part of the investigation into the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar, and held at premises of the Anti-Corruption Office of the Judicial Police (OCLCIFF).

Despite that, a statement was later released on his behalf, protesting his innocence and claiming he was not arrested.

He was later arrested in the early hours after hours of questioning. He said: ‘It was long but considering the number of questions, it could only be long, since I was asked about Euro 2016, the World Cup in Russia, the World Cup in Qatar, Fifa.’

His lawyer said he had been released without charge.

PLATINI’S STATEMENT

‘Michel Platini, after being heard in the same investigation in open court last year, is now questioned under the regime of custody for technical reasons. His counsel, Mr William Bourdon, strongly asserts that this is in no way an arrest, but a hearing as a witness in the context desired by the investigators, a framework that prevents all persons heard, then confronted, cannot confer outside the procedure. Michel Platini expresses himself serenely and precisely, answering all the questions, including those on the conditions for the awarding of Euro 2016, and has provided useful explanations. He has nothing to reproach himself with and claims to be totally foreign to facts the go beyond him. He is absolutely confident about what’s next.’

It read: ‘His counsel, Mr William Bourdon, strongly asserts that this is in no way an arrest, but a hearing as a witness in the context desired by the investigators.

‘Michel Platini expresses himself serenely and precisely, answering all the questions, including those on the conditions for the awarding of Euro 2016, and has provided useful explanations. He has nothing to reproach himself with and claims to be totally foreign to facts the go beyond him. He is absolutely confident about what’s next.’

French legend Platini was elected in 2007 and served as president until 2015 when he was then banned by the FIFA Ethics Committee.

He is now being questioned in Nanterre, a suburb in western Paris.

At the core of concerns is understood to be a meeting which took place 10 days before the ballot of FIFA for the World Cup decision in 2010, where former France president Nicolas Sarkozy invited Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Crown Prince of Qatar and Platini, then UEFA President and Vice President of FIFA, to a meeting at the Elysee hotel.

Michel Platini’s lawyer William Bourdon (left) said the former France and Juventus star had been released without charge, adding that there has been ‘a lot of fuss over nothing’

Mr Bourdon and Mr Platini leave judicial police station in Nanterre, France after questioning

A meeting hosted by ex-French president Nicolas Sarkozy (L) is of prime concern to authorities

Football France reported that the meeting centred around the acquisition of Ligue 1 side Paris Saint Germain by the Qataris – which became effective in June 2011 – a rise in Qatari shareholding in the Lagardere group and the creation of ‘a sports channel (BeIN Sports) to compete with Canal +’ in France.

It was then alleged that all would have been agreed ‘in exchange for a promise: that Platini does not give his voice to the United States (for the 2022 World Cup bid), as he had envisioned, but in Qatar.’

What we know so far: 

  • The investigation is into ‘private corruption’, ‘criminal conspiracy’, ‘trading in influence and concealment of trading in influence’. 
  • In 2010 a meeting took place 10 days before the official ballot, where former France president Nicolas Sarkozy invited Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Crown Prince of Qatar (and current) Emir since 2013 and Michel Platini, then UEFA President and Vice President of FIFA.
  • The meeting was reported to centre around Qatari acquisition of Paris Saint Germain, a rise in shareholding in the Lagardere group and the creation of a sports channel – in exchange for a vote.
  • Qatar bought PSG in 2011, months after this meeting.
  • Laurent Platini (Michel’s son) was hired by Qatari sports equipment supplier Burrda Sport. He left in 2016.
  • ‘Neither Sarkozy nor anyone’ told me to vote for Qatar, Platini insisted in 2014.
  • In 2015 Platini admitted that he ‘might have told’ the Americans he would vote for them. US were the favourites.
  • May 2015: Hotel in Zurich raided and FIFA officials in 6am raid over alleged corruption. 18 people indicted.
  • Platini in 2015: ‘Sarkozy never asked me to vote for Qatar, but I knew what would be good.’ He went on to say that he felt that ‘there was a subliminal message’ at the lunch. 
  • Blatter, in 2015, claimed Platini told him: ‘I am no longer in your picture because I have been told by the head of state that we should consider the situation of France.

Platini pictured during the 2018 and 2022 World Cup announcement held in Zurich, in 2010

THE QUESTIONS AUTHORITIES WANT ANSWERING

France’s National Finance Office (the PNF) are believed to be particularly interested in a lunch organised on November 23, 2010 – 10 days before the awarding of the 2022 World Cup.

The lunch involved Platini, then-French president Nicolas Sarkozy, the current Emir of Qatar Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani and Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassem, then-Prime Minister and foreign minister of Qatar.

Platini has claimed of that lunch: ‘I knew I was going to vote for Qatar before lunch and I went to see Nicolas Sarkozy to tell him. I did not know that the Qataris would be there.’

He has admitted he first planned to vote for the United States as World Cup hosts before being convinced by Qatar’s bid.

Le Monde claim the PNF also want to speak to former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, despite having already questioned him as a witness in April 2017.

Qatar was controversially revealed as the host of the 2022 World Cup, following on from Russia in 2018.

The peninsular Arab country successfully fought off competition from the USA, Australia, South Korea and Japan.

A number of issues have arisen regarding the decision to select Qatar, including human rights concerns and the status of homosexuality among others.

Additionally, In 2014, Platini also admitted holding a secret meeting with the disgraced football official Mohamed Bin Hammam, shortly before casting his vote for Qatar.

A source close to the former UEFA chief at the time told the Telegraph that Platini said he had met the Qatar football official for breakfast in a hotel in Switzerland, just a few days before the controversial decision was made.

It was further alleged that the two men had met 30 to 50 times, as both sat on the decision-making committee for FIFA.

Since the vote in favour of Qatar, of the 24 members of the executive committee (comex) of FIFA on that date, 16 have been struck off, suspended or remain under investigation.

France’s National Finance Office are reported to also want to speak to Sepp Blatter (left)

A host of concerns have arisen following the controversial selection of Qatar for 2022

Platini is alleged to have met Bin Hammam (above) just a few days before the announcement

Platini was banned by FIFA in 2015 along with former president Sepp Blatter for eight years following a verdict from the governing body’s ethics committee.

Both were cleared of corruption charges but found guilty of a series of other breaches including a conflict of interest and dereliction of duty over a 2m Swiss francs (£1.35m) ‘disloyal payment’ from Blatter to Platini, the then UEFA president, in 2011.

Blatter, who was FIFA president at the time of the vote in 2010, blamed Platini for backing out of a secret ‘gentleman’s agreement’ to award the 2022 tournament to the United States.

Platini told the Associated Press in 2015 that he ‘might have told’ American officials that he would vote for the United States bid. However, he changed his mind after the November 2010 meeting with Sarkozy and others.

Blatter went on to later claim, in a 2015 interview with the Financial Times, that Platini told him ahead of the World Cup vote: ‘I am no longer in your picture because I have been told by the head of state that we should consider the situation of France.’

During his playing career Platini was crowned Ballon d’Or winner three times in a row between 1983 and 1985 and featured as part of the France side which won the European Championships in 1984.

TIMELINE OF CONTROVERSY THAT HAS ENGULFED FIFA

MAY 2002

After becoming FIFA president in 1998, Sepp Blatter seeks re-election four years later but his campaign is blighted by rumours of financial irregularities.

DEC 2010

Blatter reveals Qatar will stage the 2022 World Cup.

MAY 2011

After rival Mohammed bin Hammam withdraws from the presidential election amid allegations of bribery, Blatter runs unopposed and elected for a fourth term.

APRIL 2013

FIFA’s ethics committee concludes an investigation into bribery allegations surrounding the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Blatter is cleared of any wrongdoing.

MAY 2015 

Fourteen FIFA officials are arrested over ‘rampant and systemic’ corruption allegations. Blatter is urged to resign, despite not being implicated. He is again re-elected as FIFA president.

JUNE 2015

Blatter announces his resignation as president, before Swiss newspaper Blick claims he did not actually resign.

SEPTEMBER 2015

Swiss prosecutors open a criminal investigation into him.

OCTOBER 2015

Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini are provisionally banned for 90 days.

NOVEMBER 2015

FIFA ethics committee investigations unit submit final case report and request that UEFA president Michel Platini is banned for life.

DECEMBER 2015

Blatter and Platini are handed eight-year bans from all football activities by FIFA’s ethics committee

FEBRUARY 2016

Gianni Infantino became the ninth FIFA president after being elected in Zurich and promised to ‘restore a new era’ to world football’s governing body.

MAY 2016

Platini resigns as UEFA president after having ban for corruption cut from six years to four at the Court of Arbitration for Sport

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