Platini interview: ‘My integrity is not in doubt’

Under fire Uefa president Michel Platini says he has done nothing wrong and that his conscience is clear after it emerged he accepted a €1.8 million payment from Fifa. The former French international footballer has been explaining himself to AFP.

Platini interview: 'My integrity is not in doubt'
"I'll pay you $2 million to be an advisor, but you'll get the money in nine years". Fifa president Sepp Blatter and Uefa's Michel Platini. Photo: AFP

UEFA chief Michel Platini has told AFP in an exclusive interview that he did nothing wrong in accepting a €1.8million 
($2million) payment from FIFA and that he was “still determined” to stand for the presidency of the troubled world organisation.

His comments came after Swiss prosecutors had accused embattled FIFA president Sepp Blatter of making a “disloyal payment” to Platini in 2011 for work he carried out between 1998 and 2002.

Question: Can you explain exactly what the work undertaken by yourself on FIFA's behalf from 1998 à 2002 consisted of?

Platini: I was employed by FIFA as a special advisor to President Sepp Blatter, working on various matters related to football, such as the international football calendar. It was a full-time job.

Question: How were the payments staggered? Was a first tranche paid before 2011?

Platini: Like I explained to the Swiss authorities, I received only part of the agreed salary between 1998 to 2002. This occurred because at the time, FIFA informed me that they would not be able to pay me the total agreed amount. Of course all the money received at the time were declared to the pertinent authorities.

Question: How do you explain that a final payment was made to you as late as 2011, nine years after your work was completed ?

Platini: Mr Blatter informed me when I started my role as his advisor that it was not initially possible to pay the totality of my salary because of FIFA's financial situation at that time. I never doubted, however, that the remaining amount owed to me would be paid eventually, so I did not actively pursue it. I even put the matter to the side for a while, before finally requesting that the outstanding balance was paid in 2011.

(Blatter and Platini, presumably discussing football matters. Photo: AFP)

Question: Have you already paid taxes on these payments in Switzerland?

Platini: Yes I declared all moneys received to the Swiss authorities and paid all tax due.

Question: How do you respond to those who say that this last payment came in the year that Blatter was elected for the fourth time, with certain media deducing from this that Blatter paid what he owed you for not standing against him?

Platini: Like I have said, the outstanding amount for the work I did was paid when I finally requested it to FIFA. The fact that this payment was made a few months before the FIFA Presidential elections is irrelevant since I never had any plans of becoming a candidate. As a matter of fact, I was extremely happy to be re-elected as UEFA President at the UEFA congress in Paris in March of 2011.

Question: Are you worried about being suspended by the FIFA Ethics Committee? Have you been contacted by the FIFA Ethics Committee on this subject?

Platini: Actually it was I who personally took the initiative to contact the Ethics Committee on Monday to tell them that I was at their full disposal to answer any question or to clarify any situation. I don't fear a suspension because I have done nothing wrong.

Question: Have Swiss authorities opened a criminal investigation against you?

Platini: Absolutely not. I was heard last week by the Swiss Authorities only as a person providing information and I cooperated fully.

Question: Have you been hurt by this speculation?

Platini: I have known for a long time that I would be the target of many unfounded attacks and I am conscious that these attacks will continue until the FIFA elections take place. There is no doubt about my integrity. I have done nothing wrong. 

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Air France pilots set for new strikes next week

With the European football championships in France in full swing, Air France pilot are set to go on strike from June 24 to 27, three major unions told AFP on Friday.

Air France pilots set for new strikes next week
An Air France Airbus A319 taking off. Photo: Air France
The unions said they were downing tools after management made “very vague promises” in negotiations during the last strike between June 11 and 14.
Pilots say that new pay rules decided by management in June would lower their salaries by five percent. The previous strike grounded around 20 percent of flights — mainly to mid-range destinations.
Management said only a quarter of pilots went on strike earlier this month but unions said the figure was more like seven in 10.
The latest strike is the latest industrial action to hit France, which has been gripped by social unrest over a series of disputed labour reforms the Socialist government of President Francois Hollande is trying to force through.
However, despite strikes by pilots and railway workers, there has been relatively little disruption to fans travelling around France for Europe's showcase football tournament.