Qatar 2022: Platini drawn into Fifa World Cup bribe scandal
Claims that Uefa president, who voted for Qatar in 2010, was 'personally lobbied' by Bin Hammam
France has become the first European nation to be drawn into the World Cup bribery scandal with allegations that Michel Platini had what the Daily Telegraph describes as a "private discussion" with Mohamed Bin Hammam, the Qatari former Fifa official who allegedly paid millions of pounds to football officials around the world.
Platini, a former captain of France and the current president of Uefa, is alleged to have met Bin Hammam shortly before Qatar were awarded the 2022 World Cup by Fifa in a 2010 vote. According to the Telegraph Bin Hammam "personally lobbied Mr Platini to support the Emirate's bid", and the Frenchman has never made any secret of the fact he voted for Qatar.
He has also been one of the leading supporters behind the idea of breaking with tradition and staging the 2022 World Cup in the northern hemisphere winter in order to avoid the dangerous heat of a Qatari summer.
An executive committee member told the Daily Telegraph that they are "shocked" by the disclosure of the meeting, which for the first time implicates a European nation in a scandal which hitherto has involved just African and Caribbean countries.
Platini has yet to respond to the allegations but they will be a major embarrassment to an ambitious man who has been mooted as a possible successor to Sepp Blatter, the controversial president of Fifa who intends to stand for re-election later this year.
Hours before the story about Platini's meeting with Bin Hammam broke, the Telegraph had reported that Uefa intended to stage a sit-down protest against Blatter's decision to put his name forward for re-election as Fifa president at its annual congress in Sao Paulo later this month. The Telegraph reported that the 78-year-old Blatter was "expected to declare his candidacy in a speech to Fifa's 209 members, reneging on a promise to step down when his fourth term in office expires next summer". That has allegedly enraged the 54 members from Uefa, including the Football Association chairman Greg Dyke, and the Telegraph says that Platini, Blatter's "arch rival", was due to lead the protest.
Ironically, given the subsequent revelations about the Frenchman, the Telegraph reported that "Platini and other senior figures within European football's governing body believe regime change is the only way to restore Fifa's battered image" following the drip-drip of allegations over the vote for the 2022 World Cup.
If the allegations levelled at Platini have any truth in them his standing in the game could suffer irreparable damage. It would also embolden Blatter and make it almost certain that the ageing Swiss would win a fifth term in office.