The alleged “disloyal payment” made by FIFA to Michel Platini that resulted in the UEFA president and FIFA chief Sepp Blatter being suspended was detailed in a 1998 UEFA Executive Committee report, according to reports by French newspaper Journal du Dimanche.
Platini and Blatter are due to attend personal hearings with FIFA’s ethics judge from December 16 in relation to the alleged payment of two million Swiss francs, received by the former France captain in 2011 for work he claims to have carried out for world football’s governing body between 1999 and 2002.
The transaction is the subject of a criminal investigation by the Swiss attorney general and the duo were handed 90-day provisional bans from all football activities on October 8 by FIFA’s Ethics Committee.
In an October interview with Swiss broadcaster RROTV following his suspension, Blatter described the arrangement with Platini as “a gentleman’s agreement”, while Platini told Le Monde that there was no written confirmation but a verbal agreement over a “man-to-man thing”.
But Journal du Dimanche reports that it is in possession of a document from a November 12, 1998 UEFA Executive Committee meeting in Stockholm “resembling an intelligence service memo”.
In the document, it is claimed that Blatter, who was elected to his post for the first time in June of that year, “already announced that Platini would become the future sporting director of FIFA. Platini would therefore become part of FIFA.”
It adds that “there has been talk about one million Swiss francs as salary”.
Thibaud D’Ales, one of Platini’s lawyers, told Journal du Dimanche: “This document demonstrates, contrary to everything the accusations are based upon, that nothing was occult [hidden] in Michel Platini’s contract with FIFA, and that many people in UEFA and FIFA, were aware of it in 1998.”
D’Ales added that the accusations against his client were “unfounded” and insisted that Platini would clear his name.
Then UEFA president Lennart Johansson, who missed out on FIFA’s top job in the 1998 election, is reported to have attended the meeting. In October this year, Johansson told InsideWorldFootball that he was never informed of any financial arrangement between Blatter and Platini.
Platini was the favourite to succeed Blatter as FIFA president in February next year but he is unable to campaign under the terms of his suspension, which he has appealed at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, Jerome Champagne, Tokyo Sexwale and Gianni Infantino are the five confirmed candidates to replace Blatter.
FIFA was hit by further controversy towards the end of a scandal-ridden year last week when two high-ranking officials – CONCACAF president Alfredo Hawit and CONMEBOL president Juan Angel Napout were arrested in early-morning raids at the Hotel Baur au Lac in Zurich.
Delegates were gathered in the Swiss capital for a two-day Executive Committee meeting, where acting FIFA president Issa Hayayou said the arrested “underscore the necessity to complete a full programme of reform for FIFA”.