Michel Platini decides it’s not the right time to run against Sepp Blatter

Uefa president was repeatedly critical of his former ally during the press conference

 Uefa president Michel Platini who announced yesterday he will not be running against Sepp Blatter for the Fifa presidency next year. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Uefa president Michel Platini who announced yesterday he will not be running against Sepp Blatter for the Fifa presidency next year. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Uefa president Michel Platini all but acknowledged yesterday that another four years of Sepp Blatter running Fifa is an inevitability when he announced here in Monaco that he would not be running for the game’s top job next year but would settle instead for another stint in his present role.

Platini was repeatedly critical of his former ally during a press conference, not least for running again when he had said three years ago he would not, but claimed that his decision to stand for re-election at Uefa was made “with my heart”, and not because the Swiss is simply unbeatable at this point.

The former international midfielder clearly hinted that he still hopes to succeed Blatter whenever he might go but admitted “now is not my time”. He denied that he was afraid of losing, pointing to the fact that he had been regarded by many as the underdog when he ran against Lennart Johansson seven years ago.

“It was no mean feat to beat him,” he said, “so I don’t think I can be accused of being frightened of Mr Blatter because I proved my stuff in 2007.”

Blatter backed him in that campaign and Platini reciprocated in 2011, but he said yesterday that he has told the 78-year-old face to face that he will not vote for him next year, something that is unlikely to trouble the older man too much given that every other confederation bar Uefa has already indicted to one extent or another that they will.

Was racist

The Fifa president appeared to strengthen his hand on the eve of the World Cup, in fact, by alleging that some of the coverage in Europe, especially in Britain, of the vote that handed Qatar the 2022 World Cup was racist. Delegates from Uefa associations were strongly critical of the comments at the Fifa congress but African officials rallied in support and Platini’s hopes of building the sort of alliance required to oust him were further dented.

There has been some talk since that one of the most outspoken critics, Michael van Praag of the Netherlands, a Uefa Executive Committee member might run but Platini said simply that he would wait and see who steps forward before deciding whether they are worthy of support or not.

Supporting a successful alternative to Blatter now, of course, might complicate matters if he wanted to run himself in five years. He was, in any case, dismissive of his fellow countryman Jerome Champagne’s already declared candidature, observing that “I don’t think there’s much interest there”.

Platini, who announced his decision not to stand to officials from across Europe immediately before the press conference, said that he wants to see through the work he has started on issues like Financial Fair Play (FFP), the 2020 European Championships, the new Nations League before he moves on. In the case of the international game, he said, his aim is to “professionalise the football of the national squads and take it to at least the level of the Champions League”.

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