Michael Platini: Former Uefa president released from custody after being questioned over multiple World Cups

Former France national team captain was detained by French police on Tuesday and questioned about the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, plus the 2016 European Championship, Uefa, Fifa and Paris Saint-Germain

Jack de Menezes
Wednesday 19 June 2019 07:17
comments
FIFA drops plans to expand Qatar 2022 to 48 teams

Michel Platini was released from custody in the early hours of the morning after being questioned by French police who are investigating a number of major football tournaments and how the hosting rights for them were awarded.

Former Uefa president Platini was detained on Tuesday in Nanterre, a western suburb of Paris, and questioned at the Anti-Corruption Office of the Judicial Police (OCLCIFF) in what was initially reported as an investigation into the 2022 World Cup, which is due to be staged in Qatar.

But after being released at around 12:30am local time (11:30pm BST), Platini revealed that authorities quizzed him on both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, as well as the 2016 European Championship. The former France national team captain was also questioned about Fifa and Paris Saint-germain.

"It was long, but given the number of questions it could not be different," Platini said after his release. "They asked me questions about the 2016 Euro, the World Cup in Russia, the World Cup in Qatar, the Paris Saint-Germain, Fifa."

Platini has denied any wrongdoing and said that he was not arrested but questioned as a witness to the investigation, adding that his involvement is "is much ado about nothing."

Platini was not the only person taken into custody on Tuesday as part of the investigation as two former officials under President Nicholas Sarkozy’s government were detained in Sophie Dion, a former sports advisor, and Claude Gueant, the former secretary general of the Elysee presidential palace.

Ahead of the Fifa vote in 2010 to decide both the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts, Mr Sarkozy hosted a meeting in November of that year that brought Platini together with Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, then the crown prince of Qatar and now its ruling emir. Al-Thani also owns the French club Paris Saint-Germain, and Sarkozy frequently attends its games.

Qatar beat the long-favoured United States 14 to 8 when Fifa selected the host country for the 2022 World Cup.

As head of European football’s governing body Uefa, Platini was the continent's top representative on the Fifa committee that picked Qatar. Platini served as Uefa boss from 2007 until he was forced to resign in 2015 after receiving a six-year ban from football – reduced to four years on appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport – over receiving a “disloyal payment” from former Fifa president Sepp Blatter.

Former Uefa president Michel Platini leaves a judicial police station where he was detained for questioning

Platini and Blatter were both cleared of corruption charges in 2015, but were found guilty of a series of regulation breaches that included conflict of interest and dereliction of duty when a 2m Swiss francs (£1.35m) payment from Blatter to Platini in 2011 was discovered. Both were handed long bans from all football-related activities.

Platini was on the 1998 Fifa World Cup organising committee, and joined the Fifa executive committee in 2002 until he received his ban.

Platini revealed he was questioned about the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, Euro 2016, Uefa, Fifa and PSG

Qatar was controversially awarded the right to host the 2022 World Cup in 2010, which was announced at the same time as Russia winning the right to stage the 2018 tournament. In 2014, Platini admitted holding a meeting in secret with disgraced former football official Mohamed bin Hammam days before casting his vote for Qatar, with the ex-Asian Football Confederation subsequently banned from football for life following an expose by the Sunday Times.

An investigation by The Telegraph into Platini and Bin Hammam’s relationship claimed that the pair met “between 30 and 50 times” while serving on Fifa’s executive committee.

Platini leaves with his lawyer William Bourdon after being questioned by police on Tuesday

French prosecutors are known to be investigating an array of winning bids for major sports events, including the 2018 World Cup that was awarded to Russia, the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo and track and field world championships.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments