Platini: FIFA did not have the finances to pay me

Matt Stead

Michel Platini has explained he was not paid money owed by FIFA for over a decade due to the world governing body’s financial situation.

Platini, whose status has been described by the Swiss attorney general as “in between a witness and accused person” in the criminal proceedings involving FIFA president Sepp Blatter, said he was still determined to stand for the presidency himself in February.

The UEFA president said: “Mr Blatter informed me when I started my role as his advisor (in 1999) that it was not initially possible to pay the totality of my salary because of FIFA’s financial situation at that time.

“I never doubted, however, that the remaining amount owed to me would be paid eventually, so I did not actively pursue it.

“I even put the matter to the side for a while, before finally requesting that the outstanding balance was paid in 2011.”

FIFA’s accounts for the 1999-2002 period shows a deficit of 134million Swiss francs had been estimated after its TV and marketing partners went bankrupt but actually ended the cycle with a revenue surplus of 115million Swiss francs, and in April 2003 Blatter hailed the organisation as “financially more stable than ever”.

The timing of the payment to Platini in February 2011 raised questions as it came just after the Frenchman had met Asian football chief Mohamed bin Hammam, who had urged him to stand against Blatter, and two months before UEFA gave its backing to Blatter.

Platini added: “The outstanding amount for the work I did was paid when I finally requested it to FIFA.

“The fact that this payment was made a few months before the FIFA presidential elections is irrelevant since I never had any plans of becoming a candidate.

“As a matter of fact, I was extremely happy to be re-elected as UEFA President at the UEFA congress in Paris in March of 2011.”

The Frenchman said he was ”calm and totally serene” about the investigation “since I don’t have reasons to be concerned”.

He added: “I have known for a long time that I would be the target of many unfounded attacks and I am conscious that these attacks will continue until the FIFA elections take place.

“I am still determined to present myself as a candidate for the FIFA presidency so I can introduce the governance reforms that are necessary to restore the order and credibility to world football.”

Platini’s response to his £1.3million payment from FIFA came four days after he was interviewed by officials from the Swiss attorney general’s office – he and Blatter are also being investigated by FIFA’s ethics committee.

That committee on Tuesday announced a lifetime ban for former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner over illegal payments – but he claimed there is no coincidence that it has been announced at the same time that FIFA is engulfed by a storm of controversy.

Warner said in an email to Press Association Sport: “I left the FIFA in April 2011 and if in September 2015 the FIFA wants to ban me for life without even a hearing then so be it. I do not believe however that this will serve as the distraction to the FIFA’s present problems as the FIFA wishes it to be.

“Given what is happening in Zurich with Blatter I wish to say that there is no such thing as coincidence.”