French sports minister Patrick Kanner has questioned whether Michel Platini was granted a fair hearing by FIFA before being hit with an eight-year ban from football-related activities.
UEFA president Platini was handed his suspension along with FIFA counterpart Sepp Blatter on Monday following an investigation by the Independent Ethics Committee of world football’s governing body.
Blatter and Platini’s lengthy punishments relate to a payment of two million Swiss francs made by FIFA, and authorised by the 79-year-old Swiss, to the former France captain in February 2011.
The duo cited a “gentleman’s agreement” for a transaction concerned with work carried out for FIFA by Platini between 1999 and 2002, but this explanation was rejected by the adjudicatory chamber of the Ethics Committee, which found them to be in breach of four articles of the FIFA Code of Ethics.
Platini had been tipped to succeed Blatter in world football’s top administrative job when the latter was due to step down in February. With Blatter confirming his intention to appeal on Tuesday, and Platini expected to follow suit, Kanner suggested his countryman’s rivalry with Blatter was a key element in his downfall.
“We know very well that FIFA’s ethics committee has been very close to the former managers, notably Sepp Blatter – who is perhaps dragging down with him the man he expected to be his successor but who was not always the man he wanted to see take his place,” Kanner told Europe 1 radio.
“I regret this because Michel Platini is in a sense being hounded. Was he able to defend himself under fair conditions? I’m not convinced.”
Former UEFA general secretary Gerhard Aigner echoed Kanner’s stance in an interview with UK radio station TalkSport, where he suggested the concentration of power in Blatter’s office at FIFA had badly undermined an organisation in need of wide-sweeping changes.
“I don’t think you can put Blatter and Platini in the same boat,” Aigner said. “Being close to Blatter meant Platini became part of his system. In acting as executive president, it meant Blatter more or less didn’t have to respect any rules.
“He was taking operational decisions and there was no more control from his executive committee over what he was doing. How was he allowed to do that? That’s a mystery to me.”
Aigner added: “What needs to be done now is to define clearly the relationship between federations and FIFA. Instead of having a complementary situation there’s a competitive situation, especially from the side of FIFA because they think they are a superior authority, which creates all these problems.
“In the present structures it is almost impossible for FIFA to do their job correctly. Their structures are totally outdated and have to be changed. The people at FIFA must change, that’s for sure.”