English FA withdraw support for Michel Platini Fifa bid

Head of Uefa currently provisionally suspended for 90 days by ethics committee

The Football Association has formally suspended its support for Michel Platini’s bid to become Fifa president following a briefing from lawyers representing the suspended Uefa head.

The FA has been under huge pressure to reconsider its position after the Uefa president was questioned by the Swiss attorney general as somewhere "between a witness and an accused person" over a £1.35m payment received from the outgoing Fifa president Sepp Blatter in 2011.

Platini and Blatter were provisionally suspended for 90 days by Fifa’s ethics committee last week while investigations continue. Both have denied wrongdoing.

The FA Board initially said it would reserve judgment before the FA chairman, Greg Dyke, hardened his position and indicated it would back away from Platini if he could not provide a written contract for the payment. It is understood that no written contract exists for the £1.35m payment, which relates to the period between January 1999 and June 2002 when Platini acted as a paid adviser to Blatter.


After Platini first announced his candidacy, and before the allegations of a “disloyal payment” against the interests of Fifa came to light, the FA was voluble in its support.

At Soccerex in September, the FA chief executive, Martin Glenn, said it would "place English football well to have a guy like Michel running Fifa". The FA was also encouraged by its strong ties to Uefa in recent years and a shared interest in boosting the number of homegrown players.

The FA, represented at Thursday's crisis talks in Nyon by former the Manchester United chief executive David Gill, said it had signed up willingly to a statement supporting Platini's right to a fair trial. But on Friday it said it could no longer continue to support him.

“The FA wishes Mr Platini every success in fighting these charges and clearing his name, and has no interest in taking any action that jeopardises this process,” said the FA statement.

“However, notwithstanding the above, at the Uefa meeting on Thursday the FA learnt more information relating to the issues at the centre of this case from Mr Platini’s lawyers. We have been instructed that the information must be kept confidential and therefore we cannot go into specifics.

“As a result of learning this information, the FA Board has this morning concluded that it must suspend its support for Mr Platini’s candidature for the Fifa presidency until the legal process has been concluded and the position is clear. A decision can then be taken on who to support in the presidential election on 26 February 2015.”

Many European members are expected to now back Sheikh Salman, the Bahrainian Asian Football Confederation president who has now resolved to stand and has longstanding close links to Platini and Uefa.

Sheikh Salman, AFC president since 2013, is expected to announce his candidacy next week after receiving expressions of support from Europe, Asia, Africa and South America.

However, there also remains the possibility that a European candidate such as the Dutch FA president Michael van Praag may decide to stand.

Uefa on Thursday called for Platini’s fate to be decided by mid-November, including any appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

But nominations for the Fifa presidential election close on October 26 and the world governing body has said that anyone who is provisionally suspended on that date will not be eligible to stand.

By not calling for a postponement of the election, Uefa has effectively signalled that it will explore a plan B in case Platini is not able to clear his name by that date.

(Guardian service)