Regan vents frustrations with Fifa as strife builds
STEWART REGAN, the chief executive of the Scottish Football Association, branded Fifa a “shambles” last night, and detailed his disappointment in Michel Platini after publicly backing the Frenchman to be the next president of world football’s governing body.
The SFA voiced their support for Platini in July, but he has since received a 90-day suspension from all footballing activity by Fifa’s Ethics Committee while it investigates the background to a £1.35m payment he received from the body’s outgoing president Sepp Blatter, in 2011.
Platini insists the money, which was not covered by any written contract, was for consultancy work carried out as an adviser to Blatter up until 2002. The eventual payment preceded Platini’s decision to endorse Blatter for another term as Fifa president rather than run against him.
Asked about his feelings towards the current UEFA president after going so public with his support of him as a reforming force in world football, Regan was clear.
“Disappointment, I think it’s fair to say,” he replied. “Prior to the disclosure of the payment from Blatter, he was being seen as a very strong candidate.
“We had put in our letter of support as had tens of associations across Europe and across the world, actually.
“I think he has damaged his reputation by becoming embroiled in this issue. It is going to be a long way back for him, but it is important that he has the chance to clear his name and it is important for all of us to understand the facts and what has gone on.
“That will give our board the chance to consider what direction we want to take.
“Platini has made things very difficult for himself with the information that has been disclosed. It is going to be very difficult for him to come back.
“The deadline for the election [of Fifa president] taking place on February 26 is key. I don’t think it should be postponed.
“Once we get more information from the Ethics Committee investigation, we, as a board, will be able to decide what
we do, but, at the moment, it is a shambles, quite honestly. What’s going on at the top of the game is tarnishing football’s reputation.”
Platini’s exact role in the controversial decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar has also been under scrutiny for some time amid allegations of secret meetings with key figures and the fact his son, Laurent, was given a job as the chief executive of a Qatari-owned sports company.
Regan, however, insists it has been a complete shock that the one-time captain of the French national team has been dragged into a corruption investigation.
“I am very surprised that Platini has allowed himself to be in a position where he has received a payment and there doesn’t appear to be any written evidence to support it,” he said.
Blatter, who claims the 2022 World Cup was pencilled in for the United States until Platini started lobbying for Qatar, also made the astonishing allegation earlier this week that the decision to award Russia the 2018 World Cup was made by Fifa before a single vote had been cast.
“That, for me, is shocking,” said Regan. “It’s outrageous if it’s true.”
Should the worst happen to Platini, UEFA’s current secretary general Gianni Infantino will stand as a candidate for the presidency of Fifa, with Regan appearing open to giving him his support too.
“Gianni is a credible candidate,” he said. “Clearly, there is an opportunity, depending on what happens with Platini, for him to step aside if Platini is cleared.
“He is capable of leading the game, though.”