France’s Michel Platini tells Blatter to quit Fifa

UPDATED: Allegations that leading figures at Fifa took bribes for the awarding of World Cups has led to suspicion that the vote that saw France named host of the 1998 tournament was also tainted by corruption. French football chiefs and Uefa's Michel Platini have also rounded on Fifa’s chief Sepp Blatter.

France's Michel Platini tells Blatter to quit Fifa
Michel Platini (right) has urged Sepp Blatter to resign. Photo: AFP

While most of the attention of the latest Fifa scandal surrounds allegations bribes were paid for the awarding of future World Cups in Russia and Qatar, suspicion has also been raised about the awarding of previous tournaments.

One of those that has fallen under the spotlight is the World Cup 1998, which was awarded to France after a Fifa vote six years earlier.

US attorney general Loretta Lynch, who said on Wednesday that her work “was only just beginning”, is investigating the 1992 vote that France won by 12 votes to seven against Morocco.

According to documents released by Lynch, an ex-member of Fifa’s executive, believed to be Jack Warner accepted a bribe in exchange for voting for Morocco.

Warner who was previously banned by Fifa for corruption was one of those arrested on Wednesday. Police picked him up in his home country of Trinidad and Tobago.

He was ordered to hand over his passport and check in with police twice a week before a hearing over whether to extradite him to the United States in July, according to the reports.

Warner has denied any wrongdoing. But two of his sons have pleaded guilty to charges related to the US investigation into bribery and kickbacks involving FIFA officials and sports marketing firms.

French President Francois Hollande said sporting organisations who pick the hosts of such massive events must be “irreproachable”.

France hosted the World Cup in 1998 and is bidding for another major world sporting event, the Summer Olympics, in 2024.

“We are a candidate for big competitions. I trust the organisations who take these decisions. It is up to these organisations to shine a light on what has happened in past years,” Hollande said.

French football rounds on Sepp Blatter

Will he stay or will he go: Pressure mounts on Sepp Blatter

Meanwhile as the crisis engulfs the governing body pressure is mounting on its chief Sepp Blatter to step down.

As Blatter prepared to open the annual Fifa congress in Switzerland, figures from across French and European football pressed the global body to clean itself up – starting with a change at the top.

Frenchman Michel Platini who runs European football governing body Uefa has told Blatter to step down.

“Changing the president is the only way to change Fifa,” Platini told a press conference on Thursday.

Platini said he had asked to speak to Blatter personally on Thursday but  the Fifa president had snubbed his request.

“I told him to step down from Fifa becasue it's image is bad and we cannot continue like that. He told me it was too late,” Platini added.

David Ginola, who has played for various clubs in the English Premier League and now hosts football show on French TV said Blatter was “totally responsible” for the crisis.

“I am appalled but not surprised,” said Ginola,who made a brief bid to take over the presidency of Fifa earlier this year.

“I hope that this will prompt the beginning of a new era, a new ethic and the end of the Blatter years.

“I don’t know about how far the Fifa president is implicated in the corruption affecting his organisation, but there comes a time when enough is enough. Did he just close his eyes to all this? Anyway Blatter is totally responsible.”

The head of France’s Ligue 1 Frédéric Thiriez said “the police and justice must go right to the end” to root out those responsible. 

Blatter has up to now vowed that the election, due to take place on Friday will go ahead as planned, despite the scandal.

He is up against Prince Ali ben al-Hussein from Jordan and in spite of everything, Blatter is expected to win.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Thursday urged FIFA to delay its presidential election. 

“There have been years of corruption allegations in this sector,” he said, adding he supported a vote delay so officials could “take some time, see what is founded, unfounded.”

“Otherwise there will be an even more disastrous image of this body,” Fabius told France Inter radio, adding an election delay would be “good sense”.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


French football’s HQ raided as part of probe into Blatter

The headquarters of France's football chiefs was raided as part of the ongoing probe into corruption at FIFA and the criminal investigation targeting Sepp Blatter.

French football's HQ raided as part of probe into Blatter
Photo: AFP

French authorities have searched the Paris offices of the French Football Federation in connection with Switzerland's criminal investigation targeting former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, the Swiss attorney general said Wednesday.

Documents in connection with Blatter's infamous 2.0 million Swiss franc ($2.0 million, 1.8 million euros) payment to the fallen UEFA president Michel Platini “were seized” in the search carried out on Tuesday, Switzerland's top prosecutor said in a statement.

The statement said it asked France for cooperation in the investigation on January 14th.

“Pursuant to that request… and in close coordination with the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG), the French Financial Prosecution Office proceeded yesterday to a search of the offices of the French Football Federation (FFF) in Paris,” the statement said.

It added that the search was “in connection with the criminal proceedings against Mr. Joseph Blatter.”

Switzerland opened an investigation against Blatter in September for alleged criminal mismanagement during his tenure as FIFA's president.

It also suspected Blatter of making a payment that was “disloyal” to FIFA.

That payment was the 2.0 million Swiss francs Blatter authorised to Platini in 2011, reportedly for consulting work the Frenchman performed a decade earlier.

Doubts surrounding that payment led FIFA's ethics judges to ban both Blatter and Platini from football for six years.

In the Swiss case, Platini has been questioned in a status that falls between a witness and an accused.

“Mr. Michel Platini's status in the proceedings has remained unchanged,” the OAG statement said.