UEFA president Michel Platini has responded to accusations he received a “disloyal payment” from Sepp Blatter after Swiss authorities opened criminal proceedings against the FIFA president on Friday.
The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) opened proceedings against Blatter on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and misappropriation, with the FIFA president suspected of signing a contract with the Caribbean Football Union (CFU), then led by former FIFA heavyweight Jack Warner, in 2005 that market experts claim handed World Cup television rights for the 2010 event in South Africa and the 2014 showpiece in Brazil to Warner for a fraction of their value.
Blatter is also accused of making a payment to Platini in 2011 in relation to work carried out by him between 1999 and 2002 when the Frenchman was a special advisor to the 79-year-old.
Former France great Platini – who is set to stand to become Blatter’s successor at the Extraordinary Congress next year – released a statement explaining the payment was made under a contract with FIFA and that he had discussed the matter with the Swiss authorities.
“Today I was asked by the Swiss authorities to provide information relating to the ongoing investigations surrounding FIFA,” it read.
“I have always been open to supporting the relevant bodies and authorities in their investigative work and therefore cooperated fully.
“Regarding the payment that was made to me, I wish to state that this amount relates to work which I carried out under a contract with FIFA and I was pleased to have been able to clarify all matters relating to this with the authorities.
“Today I also made clear to the Swiss authorities that since I live in Switzerland I am available to speak with them any time to clarify any matters relating to the investigations.”
Platini is one of a number of candidates due to stand for world football’s top job in February following Blatter’s decision to step down shortly after being re-elected for a fifth term in May.
The Swiss had been re-elected against the backdrop of nine past and present officials being indicted for racketeering conspiracy and corruption under an investigation by United States and Swiss authorities before announcing his decision to stand down.
With the fallout from the corruption allegations continuing to dog FIFA, Blatter cancelled a scheduled press conference at the end of the ExCo meeting in Zurich where he was set to field difficult questions regarding the situation of general secretary Jerome Valcke – currently on leave following claims he was linked to a scheme intending to sell tickets for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil at above their face value before the contract was cancelled.
He was also set to be quizzed on the location of the next ExCo meeting, with Blatter having been reluctant to leave Switzerland for fear of extradition. The meeting has since been moved from Tokyo to Zurich.
OAG then questioned Blatter after the ExCo meeting while also conducting a house search at FIFA headquarters with the support of the Federal Criminal Police.