June 18 (Independent) – Michel Platini, the former president of Uefa and head of European football, has been arrested over the decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.
The former France international captain was detained by French police on Tuesday morning in Nanterre, a western suburb of Paris, as part of the investigation into corruption surrounding how the 2022 World Cup hosting rights were awarded, according to French investigative outlet Mediapart.
The 63-year-old was Uefa president from January 2007 – when he replaced the late Lennart Johansson – until he stepped down in 2015 after being banned from football for six years, which was later reduced to four after appealing the sanction to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
That ban expired in March this year, but investigators leading the fight against corruption within football have arrested him on suspicion of corruption as part of the case looking into how Qatar won the right to host the next World Cup.
Platini was taken into the Anti-Corruption Office of the Juducial Police (OCLCIFF) on Tuesday morning for questioning.
He was on the 1998 Fifa World Cup organising committee, and joined the Fifa executive committee in 2002 until he received his ban.
Qatar was controversially awarded the right to host the 2022 World Cup in 2010, which was announced at the same time as Russia winning the right to stage the 2018 tournament. In 2014, Platini admitted holding a meeting in secret with disgraced former football official Mohamed bin Hammam days before casting his vote for Qatar, with the ex-Asian Football Confederation subsequently banned from football for life following an expose by the Sunday Times.
An investigation by The Telegraph into Platini and Bin Hammam’s relationship claimed that the pair met “between 30 and 50 times” while serving on Fifa’s executive committee.
Platini and Sepp Blatter, the disgraced former Fifa president who was at helm of football’s world governing body when Russia and Qatar won their respective World Cup hosting rights, were both cleared of corruption charges in 2015, but were found guilty of a series of regulation breaches that included conflict of interest and dereliction of duty when a 2m Swiss francs (£1.35m) “disloyal payment” from Blatter to Platini in 2011 was discovered. Both were handed long bans from all football-related activities.
The report also claims that Claude Gueant, who formerly advised ex-French president Nicolas Sarkozy as Secretary General, has also been taken in for questioning but has not been arrested.