Never mind the monarch, Michel Platini plots downfall of Sepp Blatter's 'Louis XV' regime

Mihir Bose says president's imperial command of Fifa is under threat from his former protégé

Once they were the best of friends, indeed a decade ago the older man used the help of the younger one to gain power, then promoted his protégé as his potential successor. But now such are the developing battle lines that the two could be in football's equivalent of an OK Corral-style shoot-out to decide who becomes the game's most powerful man.

The two are Sepp Blatter, president of Fifa and Michel Platini, president of Uefa, both of whom could contest the right to run the sport when Blatter's terms ends in 2015. Part of the reason for the fallout is 77-year-old Blatter, like many in power, does not know when to surrender the reins. Although when re-elected in 2011, he promised this would be his last term, he said last year: "There may be circumstances that I'm still there and nobody will take on Fifa, I don't know."

Since then more signs have emerged suggesting he feels nobody has emerged and he wants to go on and on. Those close to Platini also resent the way Blatter has built up an imperial presidency with Fifa resembling the court of Louis XV. The leader is always in the limelight making extraordinary statements that cause enormous problems.

This week's row over the 2022 Qatar World Cup illustrated this dramatically. In an interview last year Blatter categorically stated: "It is not possible to have the Qatar World Cup in the winter. The problem of the World Cup 2022 is that there was a bidding process and they had a bidding paper where it said, the World Cup 2022 has to be played in June/July. So, if something is to be changed, first of all, the Qataris must ask us to change it. They have never asked. They have never had any discussion with us. If they ask, then maybe something would happen."

Then two months ago, despite no such request from Qatar, Blatter suddenly announced that the Fifa executive meeting in October would decide to move it to winter. It appeared that he was persuaded by medical advice that a summer World Cup in the Qatar heat was impossible for players and fans.

Blatter's U-turn came as a complete surprise to Platini who said: "I did not know Mr Blatter wanted to change. He was going on his holidays. When Mr Blatter speaks to the press, he doesn't ask me."

For Platini this outburst was clearly another example of Blatter making dramatic announcements without consulting Fifa's executive, of which Platini is a member.

The result was the shambles in Zurich this week where, like the Duke of York having marched his men up the hill, Blatter announced that no formal decision on 2022 would be taken until a special taskforce reports back.

Platini, who has revealed he voted for Qatar, has made no secret of his desire for a winter World Cup. However, unlike Blatter, he sees arriving at a decision about a winter World Cup as a gradual process much in the way Financial Fair Play, to make European clubs live within their means, is being introduced. Platini is immensely proud of how this attempt to cure what he calls "financial doping" is now widely accepted in Europe, even by the once-sceptical Premier League.

The Frenchman is well aware that a winter World Cup will be disruptive and the European Leagues and the Champions League need to be protected. He wants to take the World Cup to different locations around the world and is opposed to any attempts to characterise opponents of Qatar as Eurocentric.

Platini is yet to announce whether he will take on his old mentor for the Fifa presidency. However, those close to him are preparing the ground. They will argue that Uefa's member associations receive more money than those reliant on Fifa. They have also begun to sketch out how Platini will run Fifa. As one of his closest advisers said, Platini will make Fifa a more "normal" organisation where the president is the first among equals, not a monarch.

If he does run, it will be as the champion of Europe protecting the continent's football from an assault by a Blatter-led Fifa.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas