Platini loses support: uefa searches for replacement candidate

European officials express their confidence in the suspended Michel Platini – and start looking for a successor.

It’s not looking so good for Michel Platini. Photo: ap

In the FIFA corruption scandal surrounding the suspended association heads Joseph Blatter and Michel Platini, trend-setting days are ahead. After the unanimously sold but controversial declaration of loyalty of the European representatives to their suspended president Platini, the meeting of the executive of the soccer world federation is now eagerly awaited next Tuesday in Zurich.

Even though the 54 member associations of the European Football Union UEFA and the Executive Committee with German representative Wolfgang Niersbach managed to reach a joint statement pro Platini on Thursday, the sporting future of the 60-year-old Frenchman is more open than ever.

"There were discussions about what happens if…," admitted UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino after the meetings at UEFA headquarters in Nyon. But he said it was far too early for "contingency plans." So Infantino was at pains during the press conference, which lasted just under an hour, to stress again and again that the Europeans had unanimously expressed their confidence in Platini, that he had the right to a fair trial and should not be prejudged.

"No, there were no other names raised. Currently Michel Platini is a candidate for the FIFA presidency," Infantino said. UEFA members had also agreed that the election of a successor to Blatter, who had also been banned from the world governing body, "should not be postponed" and should continue to take place in Zurich on February 26, 2016.

Hardly any prospects for Fifa presidency

In terms of content, he did not want to and was not allowed to go into the circumstances surrounding Blatter’s dubious two-million payment to Platini. The Frenchman had received two million Swiss francs for services between January 1999 and June 2002 only almost nine years later from Blatter, who has now also been banned for the time being.

In 2011, the UEFA associations under the leadership of Platini supported the Swiss in the election campaign against the Qatari Mohamed bin Hammam, Platini himself did not run. So far, Platini is only listed as a "respondent" by the Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office.

Platini and Blatter had been suspended for 90 days by the FIFA Ethics Committee last Thursday. Shortly before, Platini had submitted his application for the FIFA presidency. However, as things stand, it seems impossible that the former world-class professional will pass the so-called integrity check by the Ethics Committee by the closing date on October 26 and be approved as a candidate.

Niersbach a possible candidate

And so it is considered conceivable that the Europeans could agree on a replacement candidate for Platini by next Tuesday’s FIFA Exco meeting after all. "Whatever happens in the next few days will be discussed," Infantino said. "If someone else comes up, then we will see."

On Thursday, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein submitted his final application. The Jordanian still held the European endorsement when he defeated Blatter with a respectable result in late May. Should Platini not be available for election, the name of Dutchman Michael van Praag is repeatedly mentioned. Niersbach is also considered a candidate for the UEFA chairmanship.

The president of the German Football Association had declared in the "Zeit" newspaper that he "would not shirk from making my contribution. But you certainly can’t win this story through the media. You only win it if you take a clear course internally and win majorities for it." He did not comment on Thursday.