Platini faces life in the wilderness

Michel Platini (AFP Photo)
Michel Platini (AFP Photo)

Paris - Michel Platini is clinging to hopes that he will retain control of Europe's cash-rich UEFA after his eight-year suspension forced him to withdraw from the race to become head of football's world body FIFA.

Angrily blaming suspended FIFA leader Sepp Blatter for his being made an outcast, Platini said "I don't know where I am going" in announcing the end of his election hopes.

The 60-year-old French football legend remains president of UEFA, despite his suspension over a suspect two million Swiss francs payment.

But with the European Championships and the Champions League climax looming, Europe's governing body will soon have to decide on its leadership.

"If in the end I get a suspension of a few months I will still be president of UEFA. And if not, I will take over a club ... I am not worried," Platini told L'Equipe newspaper.

FIFA banned the French football legend, president of UEFA since 2007, after an investigation into the two million Swiss francs that Blatter ordered him paid in 2011 for work carried out a decade earlier.

Platini said he was withdrawing from the race for the FIFA election on February 26 to clear his name. "I am devoting myself to my defence."

With the lengthy appeals that he has said he will make to FIFA, the Court of Arbitration for Sport and Swiss courts, Platini has no time for the campaign even if he was cleared to take part.

Platini was only reelected as UEFA president in 2015. The body has made no suggestion yet that it will choose a new president. Senior vice president Angel Maria Villar Llona of Spain runs meetings.

But the European Championships and Champions League final could force Europe's governing body into a decision.

Platini does not figure on the agenda for UEFA's January 21-22 executive meeting in Nyon, Switzerland. But it could get raised at the special UEFA congress on February 25 in Zurich, just before the FIFA election.

And the regular annual congress on May 3 - a month before Euro 2016 - could still become an election for a new leader.

Platini lifted the European Championship trophy for France in Paris in 1984. But under the FIFA ban he cannot take any official role in the tournament in his home country starting June 10.

Platini said he had done everything to make sure the tournament was held in France. "Now they have stopped me going to the draw and soon they will ask me not to go at all. But I will go anyway."

He even volunteered to be a chauffeur for the organising committee chairman Jacques Lambert. Platini said Lambert had invited him.

"I can understand them stopping me go to FIFA what is the link with UEFA, with Euro?"

Platini said he had no regrets accepting the two million Swiss francs from FIFA despite the time lapse from his consultancy work and other doubts.

"Blatter owes me money, he must pay it."

He remains bitter about Blatter and other top full time officials at the world body.

"Everything started because of Blatter, who wanted my head, who did not want me to go to FIFA," Platini told L'Equipe.

"He said often that I would be his final scalp, but he fell at the same time as me," Platini, a former ally of the FIFA leader, last year called on Blatter to stand down as corruption scandals mounted around the body.

Platini said the top FIFA administrators were worried that he would "fire" them if he took over.

"All the elected members (of the FIFA executive) have jumped since the start of this affair," he said of the arrests and resignations that have torn apart football's leadership. "But not the bureaucrats. You must never forget the power of the administration."

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