Pla­tini plans come­back, le­gal fight af­ter 4-year FIFA ban

The Korea Times - - SPORTS -

NYON, Switzer­land (AP) — Four years af­ter a ban for fi­nan­cial wrong­do­ing thwarted his chances of be­com­ing FIFA pres­i­dent, Michel Pla­tini is free to work in soc­cer again on Tues­day.

How­ever, the for­mer UEFA pres­i­dent — who was once seen as the heir ap­par­ent to FIFA’s Sepp Blat­ter — said Mon­day he is still un­sure where and when he will re­turn to the game that has con­tin­ued to dom­i­nate his life even af­ter his stel­lar play­ing ca­reer with France.

“I have some idea but it’s dif­fi­cult to speak to­day,” Pla­tini told The As­so­ci­ated Press in an in­ter­view about his fu­ture plans, hours be­fore the ban was set to ex­pire.

And any come­back into a se­nior role would likely force him to first pay FIFA a fine of 60,000 Swiss francs ($60,300) that is three years over­due.

Pla­tini is still chal­leng­ing that fine in court and con­tin­ues to dis­pute the al­le­ga­tions that led to his fouryear ban from all foot­ball ac­tiv­i­ties. The charges of re­ceiv­ing an ir­reg­u­lar pay­ment and wrong­ful pen­sion en­ti­tle­ment ap­proved by Blat­ter de­railed Pla­tini’s hopes of suc­ceed­ing his for­mer men­tor as the head of global soc­cer.

Now aged 64, Pla­tini looks hardly to have aged at all dur­ing that ban, which be­came the long­est va­ca­tion of his sto­ried life in soc­cer.

The for­mer France said he is keep­ing all op­tions open, but pointed out that the next elec­tions for top roles at FIFA, UEFA and the French foot­ball as­so­ci­a­tion are “some years ahead.”

In the Paris head­quar­ters of the French fed­er­a­tion, the 77-year-old Noel Le Graet, re­cently pro­moted by UEFA to a seat on FIFA’s rul­ing coun­cil, is in of­fice un­til 2021.

“It’s not now,” said Pla­tini, who cap­tained and coached the na­tional team, and or­ga­nized the 1998 World Cup won by France at home. “I have time, if I come back to this.”

Cur­rently, his fo­cus is on what is likely the last le­gal fight against al­le­ga­tions that were up­held so far by two FIFA ju­di­cial bod­ies, the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport and Switzer­land’s supreme court.

Pla­tini has chal­lenged the Swiss fed­eral rul­ing at the Eu­ro­pean Court of Hu­man Rights in Stras­bourg, and “that means I don’t pay this fine” un­til a rul­ing is is­sued.

That on­go­ing sense of in­jus­tice, and un­paid debt, could cause FIFA’s ethics com­mit­tee to im­pede his re­turn.

“They will try to use what they want so that I don’t come back, I am sure,” Pla­tini sug­gested of soc­cer’s world body, which has been led since 2016 by his for­mer gen­eral sec­re­tary at UEFA, Gianni In­fantino.

FIFA de­clined to com­ment Mon­day on its rules en­forc­ing pay­ment of fines. It did con­firm that Blat­ter paid his fine of 50,000 Swiss francs ($50,250) first im­posed in 2015.

Blat­ter is serv­ing a six-year FIFA ban, up­held by CAS, for au­tho­riz­ing a $2-mil­lion pay­ment to Pla­tini in 2011 as back­dated salary for work as his ad­viser a decade ear­lier. Blat­ter also ap­proved ex­tend­ing his for­mer pro­tege’s FIFA pen­sion plan, that added more than $1 mil­lion by 2015.

Court doc­u­ments state Pla­tini later asked to be cred­ited with four ex­tra pen­sion years for his time as an ad­viser, when the scheme was in­tended only for ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­bers.

“I never asked for the pen­sion, it was Blat­ter who gave me that,” Pla­tini said Mon­day.

The French­man also weighed in on sev­eral other is­sues con­cern­ing global soc­cer.

Pla­tini said the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be won­der­ful for fans.

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