Investigative journalist Andrew Jennings says Michel Platini urgently needs to clear his name if he is serious about continuing with his candidacy for the FIFA presidency.
The former France and Juventus star, in charge of UEFA since 2007, has insisted he will still seek to succeed Sepp Blatter as the head of football’s global governing body.
But Platini’s campaign could yet be cast into disarray, with prosecutors in Switzerland investigating a transfer of £1.35million made by FIFA to the three-time Ballon d’Or recipient in 2011.
The 60-year-old Frenchman has claimed the funds were payment, albeit nine years late, for work undertaken between 1999 and 2002.
However, Jennings – speaking following the release of his book on FIFA, The Dirty Game – believes the fact Platini has been singled out should give the 1984 European Championship and 1984-85 European Cup winner cause for concern.
“Michel Platini’s got a serious problem with the Swiss investigators,” he told Omnisport.
“They’re great believers in privacy in Switzerland and…they’ve named Platini, which is quite astonishing.
“Platini’s got to explain to us why it took him a decade to get money he claimed he was owed from the late 1990s. I think Platini could have spoken out earlier.
“If he’s innocent, fine, it’ll all go away. But we need explanations because he says he wants to be the next president of FIFA.
“And until we are sure that his hands aren’t a bit grubby this can’t happen.”
England’s Football Association, one of few national governing bodies to openly criticise Blatter in recent years, publicly endorsed Platini’s campaign to succeed the 79-year-old Swiss, a move Jennings fears could now backfire.
“I think the English FA are in a difficult position because they’ve backed Platini,” he said. “It looks like they may have made a mistake.
“I think for the moment the English FA and many other football associations around the world should say, ‘we’re not ready for an election. We’re just going to wait and see who’s in jail and who isn’t’.
“And then we can start rebuilding FIFA.”