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?
News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor