UEFA president Michel Platini has hit back at the “astonishingly vague” allegations levelled against him and reiterated his renewed determination to defend himelf “before the relevant judicial bodies”.
The former France captain has been named as a person of interest to Swiss prosecutors in the criminal investigation launched against outgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
FIFA announced that Blatter, general secretary Jerome Valcke and Platini have been provisionally suspended for 90 days, with the latter hitting back at world football’s governing body later on Thursday.
“Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA Ethics Committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect,” Platini said in a statement.
“That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.
“I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.
“Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.
“I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.
“I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails.
“I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.”
Meanwhile, UEFA insisted it stands ‘fully behind’ Platini following news of the FIFA sanction.
“The UEFA Executive Committee saw no need, at this moment in time, to invoke Article 29(5) of the UEFA Statutes, pursuant to which the highest-ranking Vice-President of UEFA may step in to assume the powers and duties of the President in his absence,” the governing body’s statement said.
“This is because the UEFA Executive Committee is aware that the UEFA president will immediately take all necessary steps to appeal the decision of the FIFA Ethics Committee to clear his name.
“Furthermore, the UEFA Executive Committee stated that there must be a very rapid final decision on this matter before the relevant bodies, in the interests of both justice and football.
“Finally, the UEFA Executive Committee expressed its full confidence in UEFA president, Platini, and stands fully behind him.”
Irrespective of recent developments, Platini remains determined to press ahead with his bid to succeed Blatter as the head of world football’s governing body and announced that he had submitted the necessary paperwork to stand for the FIFA presidency.
“This morning I submitted the letters of support that are required in order to stand as a candidate for the presidency of FIFA,” he stated.
“As I have always done since 2007, I will fulfil my obligations after consulting UEFA’s 54 member associations, which I will ask to convene shortly in Nyon.
“I will also meet with all the other confederations and FIFA’s member associations in the spirit of openness that has always characterised my actions.”