Blatter's payment to Platini a 'conflict of interest'

FIFA's audit chief questions the payment made to Platini in 2011; Governing body re-confirms February election date.

    Blatter's payment to Platini a 'conflict of interest'
    Blatter (c) and Platini (r) have been suspended for 90 days [AP]

    Sepp Blatter's decision to authorise a payment to Michel Platini without a written contract is a "classic conflict of interest", FIFA's audit chief has told The Associated Press.

    Domenico Scala, the chairman of FIFA's audit and compliance committee, said that FIFA President Blatter could be culpable of "falsification" of accounts over the 2011 payment of 2 million Swiss francs (about $2 million) to Platini.

    UEFA president Platini said the money was owed from his job as an adviser to Blatter between 1998 and 2002.

    "Both parties, the president and Mr. Platini should have rescued from their positions because both are members of the executive committee of FIFA and they both have a conflict of interest," Scala said.

    "Mr. Platini has asked the president to pay him a prescribed amount, which he should not have asked, which is why it is a classic conflict of interest."

    Proposed FIFA changes
     FIFA's Executive Committee 'welcomed' reform plans which include term limits and an age-limit for the president.
    The preliminary plan calls for a 12-year term limit and 74-year-old age limit for the FIFA president and members of the FIFA Council.
    The reform proposals call for the Ex-Co to be replaced by a new FIFA council.
    The plans were produced by the FIFA Reform Committee and a full set of proposals will be produced at the next executive committee in December.

    Earlier, FIFA decided to keep its presidential election date in February as uncertainty surrounded suspended Platini's candidacy.

    The governing body held its first executive committee meeting since Blatter was provisionally suspended two weeks ago.

    The meeting confirmed that FIFA will go ahead with the election on February 26 after an update from election monitor Scala, whose committee rules on the eligibility of candidates.

    Blatter had already announced plans to resign before being banned for 90 days amid a FIFA ethics investigation over a 2011 payment to Platini, the UEFA president who was also suspended.

    FIFA's ethics committee has been prevented from speaking publicly on the details of the case. But FIFA said its ruling body agreed to "more transparency for ethics proceedings".

    Platini submitted his candidacy ahead of the October 26 deadline but he could be declared ineligible as he being investigated over the payment.

    Platini has challenged his suspension and is awaiting the verdict of the FIFA appeals committee.

    The European governing body, which continues to pay Platini and has not suspended its president, has spent the buildup to the FIFA meeting discussing election strategy, including whether to back another candidate in the race if the former France captain cannot run.

    The FIFA crisis, which was sparked by the arrest of football officials in Zurich ahead of Blatter's re-election in May, led to a reform process being instigated to overhaul how the organisation is run.

    Analysis - Lee Wellings, Al Jazeera English's sports correspondent in Zurich

    FIFA has decided that it would be less disruptive to press ahead with the election as planned. But there will undoubtedly be more twists and turns before then.

    The decision suits Prince Ali, the confirmed [genuine] contender for the presidency, who is looking to seize the moment. But if Sheikh Salman, the Asian football president from Bahrain, does decide to stand, he will replace Prince Ali as favourite.

    Technically, the door is left ajar for the suspended Michel Platini as the FIFA statement confirmed.

    "Candidates who are subject to a ban from taking part in football-related activity will not be processed as long as such a ban is valid and in force," the statement read. However, it added that it would reconsider "should such a ban be lifted in time".

    Realistically, the damage to Platini's reputation is likely to prove irreparable for his presidential bid, regardless of whether a ban is in place.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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