Michael Platini: Gary Lineker ‘saddened’ by questioning of ‘one of us’ in corruption investigation

Lineker played against Platini during their respective careers and claimed the involvement of the former France captain is ‘the saddest and most depressing’ of all implicated in the Fifa scandal

FIFA drops plans to expand Qatar 2022 to 48 teams

Gary Lineker has expressed his sadness at seeing former France captain Michel Platini questioned by police as part of a corruption investigation into the awarding of the 2022 World Cup hosting rights to Qatar.

Confirming a report by French news publication Mediapart, a judiciary official said Platini was taken detained on Tuesday as part of the investigation into the awarding of the tournament. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss an ongoing investigation.

Platini, a former France football great, was being detained at the Anti-Corruption Office of the Judicial Police outside Paris.

His detention comes in the same year as his ban from all football-related activities expires, which led to him stepping down as Uefa president in 2015 as well as relinquishing his place on the Fifa executive committee.

Platini's lawyer and adviser did not immediately requests for comment on the reports.

The news was greeted with a glum response from former England captain Lineker, who played against Platini during their respective football careers and saw the Frenchman win the Ballon d’Or three consecutive times in 1983, 1984 and 1985 before Lineker finished runner-up to Igo Belanov in 1986.

“Of all those that have been either arrested, indicted etc., Michel Platini is the saddest and most depressing: he was a footballer, one of us,” Lineker wrote on Twitter.

Lineker’s fellow BBC present Gabby Logan also questioned whether the investigation would lead to the Qatar being stripped of the World Cup if any corruption is proven.

Logan said: “So if the World Cup in Qatar was acquired using corrupt means, does it now get re-allocated?”

Fifa was embroiled in a corruption scandal when a number of officials past and present were arrested in 2015, though Platini and former president Sepp Blatter were both cleared of corruption charges.

French financial prosecutors have been investigating the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and previously questioned Blatter. France's financial prosecutor services opened the investigation on grounds of private corruption, criminal association, influence peddling and benefiting from influence peddling relating to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which were awarded to Russia and Qatar, respectively.

Platini was detained by French police investigating alleged corruption on Tuesday 

Much intrigue has centred on Platini's decision to vote for Qatar.

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 a November 2010 meeting, hosted by then-President Nicolas Sarkozy at his official residence in Paris and Qatar's crown prince, now Emir, Tamin bin Hamad al-Thani.

Platini has long insisted that the meeting did not influence his vote for Qatar less than two weeks later.

"Sarkozy never asked me to vote for Qatar, but I knew what would be good," he said four years ago.

Blatter was banned by Fifa for approving a $2m payment to Michel Platini in 2011

But Blatter claimed 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."

Both Platini and Blatter were toppled from their positions of power at the top of soccer in 2015. Platini was banned by Fifa for financial misconduct in relation to a 2m Swiss francs (£1.35m) payment authorised by Blatter.

Qatar's methods to bring the World Cup to the Middle East for the first time have been subject to investigations by Fifa. American attorney Michael Garcia found that some of Qatar's conduct "may not have met the standards" required by Fifa but concluded there was no "evidence of any improper activity by the bid team."

Additional reporting by AP

Join our new commenting forum

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

View comments