Platini says Blatter lied about quitting FIFA
UEFA president Michel Platini on Monday backed Prince Ali bin al Hussein’s bid to unseat Sepp Blatter as FIFA president, accusing the football leader of lying to him about seeking a new term.
Platini said as FIFA’s executive gathered in Zurich that the 79-year-old Blatter fears a life of “emptiness” if he loses a vote for the presidency on Friday and that the world body will have no credibility if he remains.
Blatter is a strong favourite to win a fifth term in the vote. The Jordanian prince is now the only challenger but the bulk of his support will come from Europe.
Platini recalled how he had backed Blatter in previous elections and in 2011 the Swiss official had said he would serve one last term.
“He asked us face to face to support him for what would be his last mandate,” Platini told French sports newspaper L’Equipe in an interview.
“I have the unpleasant feeling of having given my support on the basis of a lie,” he added.
Platini said Blatter had made good decisions in his 40-year career but that he could just not let go of power.
“I understant the fear of emptiness he must feel, that is human,” the UEFA leader said.
“You have to be capable of handing over the levers of power at the right time and not be guilty of holding on to it at any cost.”
Blatter has said he needs a fifth term to complete his “mission” and explained his change of mind by saying “times change” and that he feels fit enough for a fifth term.
“He is not staying on because he has a job to complete or because he still has some big projects to carry out for FIFA,” declared Platini.
“No, he simply is scared of what the future holds for him having consecrated his life to FIFA to the point that he identifies himself totally with it.”
Platini said that he believed that it was the right time for new blood to be brought in and that Prince Ali, 39, would make a “great president” of FIFA.
“He is not a politician and he does not need FIFA to exist,” said Platini.
The Jordanian prince is the sole remaining challenger to Blatter following last week’s withdrawals of Portugal great Luis Figo and Dutch administrator Michael van Praag.
Blatter has strong support from Africa and Asia and is expected to easily get a majority from the 209 member federations on Friday despite the many scandals that have hit FIFA in recent years.
The football strongman’s fourth term has been overshadowed by controversy, not least over the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar and the 2018 tournament to Russia.
The campaign and vote for the tournaments were the subject of a corruption investigation that FIFA has yet to fully release.
Platini, a member of the FIFA executive meeting in Zurich on Monday and Tuesday, does not vote in the election. The Frenchman decided against challenging Blatter this time but has not ruled out standing in 2019.
Another broadside to Blatter came from Argentine football legend Diego Maradona who told the Daily Telegraph that a fifth term for Blatter would be “an adsurdity”.
“Under Sepp Blatter, FIFA has become a disgrace and a painful embarrassment to those of us who care about football deeply,” the 1986 World Cup winner said.