Uefa's members are split going into today's meeting over the future of Michel Platini in Nyon, with some already considering a plan B that would involve backing Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, the head of the Asian Football Confederation, as the next Fifa president.
With Platini suspended by Fifa's ethics committee and under pressure to explain why he received a £1.3m payment from Sepp Blatter in February 2011, the members of Uefa's executive committee are understood to be conflicted over the way forward.
Platini's lawyers will address the executive committee, which will be chaired by the Spanish FA chief, Angel Maria Villar Llona, in Platini's absence, before leaving the room while the affair is discussed. The committee is then expected to put recommendations before the 54 Uefa members, who will meet in the afternoon.
Platini and Blatter, also suspended last week for 90 days while investigations continue, have appealed to the Fifa appeals committee chaired by Larry Mussenden of Bermuda and insist they have done nothing improper.
Platini says he still intends to stand for the Fifa presidency but opinion towards him is hardening among some on the Uefa executive committee. Allan Hansen of Denmark suggested it should withdraw support from its president if he cannot provide a written contract for the £1.3m payment made nine years after it was claimed the money was due.
The English Football Association's David Gill, who was persuaded by Platini to sit on the Uefa and Fifa executive committees, is also expected to ask for definitive written proof the payment was made under contract. If it is not forthcoming, the FA is believed to be on the verge of withdrawing its support for Platini.
The Swiss attorney general’s office has said Blatter is suspected of a “disloyal” payment, against the interests of Fifa. Platini has been questioned as “somewhere between a witness and an accused person” under Swiss law. Whereas Platini had a written contract for a salaried role as an adviser to Blatter in the wake of his 1998 election win, it is understood the Frenchman argues
the extra £1.3m was agreed orally. The payment was made shortly before Blatter was re-elected for a fourth term as Fifa president at a time when Mohammed bin Hammam was challenging him for the presidency.
While some around the Uefa boardroom table are likely to argue Platini should be treated as innocent until proven guilty, the 26 October deadline for nominations to run to succeed Blatter throws up a practical obstacle.
As such, senior figures within Uefa are believed to have sounded out the possibility of Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa standing for the presidency, believing he could provide clean hands and command support from Asia, Europe and South America.
The Bahraini, the AFC president and a Fifa executive committee member since 2013, would be unlikely to satisfy those who believe an external candidate should be appointed to lead the long overdue reform Fifa requires.
But Fifa’s statutes state any candidate must have held a position within football for two of the last five years. Changing that rule would require the agreement of the Fifa Congress, which is not due to meet until the election date of 26 February.
Salman had earlier backed Platini, saying the Frenchman had “an ambitious vision to renew belief in the organisation” but could now be asked to stand himself.
When Fifa’s executive committee meets next week for its own crisis talks, one of the items under discussion is expected to be whether to postpone the presidential election.
Uefa has eight representatives on the Fifa executive committee but would still need substantial support from elsewhere if it wanted to force a postponement.
Fifa's ethics committee handed down yet another ban on Wednesday. The former South Africa Football Association official Lindile Kika was banned for six years "in relation to several international friendly matches played in South Africa in 2010". Kika has denied allegations of match-fixing in the run up to the 2010 World Cup. Guardian Service