Michel Platini released from custody after hours of questioning | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

14 December, Saturday


Michel Platini released from custody after hours of questioning

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The banned ex-UEFA chief Michel Platini was released from custody on Wednesday after hours of questioning in connection with a criminal investigation into the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

The French football legend who led European football's governing body from 2007 to 2015 was held on Tuesday by French anti-corruption police investigating alleged corruption in the 2010 vote to award the competition to the gas-rich Gulf state.

He denied wrongdoing and a statement from his representatives said the facts of the case were "unknown to him."

In the early hours of Wednesday, Platini's lawyer William Bourdon said he had been released without charge, adding that there has been "a lot of fuss over nothing".

Platini, 63, looked drawn as he left the police anti-corruption office in Nanterre in the western Paris suburbs.

"It was long but considering the number of questions, it could only be long, since I was asked about Euro 2016, the World Cup in Russia, the World Cup in Qatar, Fifa," he told reporters.

The decision to name Qatar as 2022 World Cup hosts triggered allegations of corruption that ultimately sparked FIFA's worst ever scandal.

France's Office of the Financial Crimes Prosecutor (PNF) opened a preliminary investigation in 2016 into allegations of corruption, conspiracy and influence peddling surrounding the Qatar vote and also the awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia.

According to Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president at the time, Qatar won hosting rights as a result of a deal with France, derailing FIFA's own "diplomatic arrangement" whereby hosting rights would have gone to Russia in 2018 and then to the United States four years later.

The French investigation centres on alleged French intervention linked to Platini and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

According to France Football magazine, a "secret meeting" took place on November 23, 2010, at the Elysee Palace in Paris between Sarkozy, Qatar's then-Prince (now Emir) Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and Platini, who at that time was both UEFA president and vice-president of FIFA.

Just over a week later, FIFA voted to award Qatar hosting rights for the 2022 tournament.

Platini dismissed Blatter's allegations as a "tissue of lies" and denies he was influenced by Sarkozy, whose advisor for sport, Sophie Dion, was also held for questioning Tuesday along with the former French captain.

Platini's representatives said in a statement: "He has done absolutely nothing wrong and affirms that he is totally unrelated to the facts (of the case) which are unknown to him."

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AFP

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