Michel Platini questioned over awarding of World Cup to Qatar


Former Uefa President Michel Platini is being questioned by French anti-corruption investigators over the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

Platini, 63, was head of European football’s governing body until being banned in 2015 for ethics breaches.

The former France midfielder and three-time Ballon d’Or winner has always denied any wrongdoing.

Qatar beat bids from USA, Australia, South Korea and Japan in 2010.

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Platini is in custody and being questioned in Nanterre, a suburb in western Paris.

Officials have been investigating alleged corruption connected to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups for the past two years and were reported to have interviewed Sepp Blatter, the former president of world governing body Fifa, in 2017.

Platini was banned over a 2m Swiss francs (£1.3m) “disloyal payment” from Blatter, who was also banned from football for his part in the matter. Blatter has also always denied any wrongdoing.

Platini’s eight-year ban was later reduced to four on appeal and will expire in October 2019.

Qatar’s bid team has been previously accused of corruption, but was cleared following a two-year Fifa inquiry.

This is the result of two years of work by French investigators from the country’s serious financial crime unit, who – just like their counterparts in the US and Switzerland – have been looking into allegations of corruption connected to Fifa’s shock decision to award Qatar the World Cup in 2022.

Given that Blatter has been interviewed as part of the same case, it is no surprise that Platini is also now facing questions.

It is understood these will focus on a lunch Platini attended in Paris just days before that hugely controversial vote in 2010, with the then French president Nicolas Sarkozy at his official residence and the Qatari head of state.

It has long been suspected that the prospect of important bilateral trade deals between the two nations, and the subsequent Qatari takeover of Paris St-Germain may have been used as leverage to get Sarkozy’s support.

Platini has always denied that was why he changed his mind to vote for Qatar (rather than the US).

Given how much time has now passed since the 2010 vote, and how much has changed at Fifa, there seems no real prospect that this latest development could affect Qatar’s status as hosts, even if Platini is charged.

Fifa’s own 2014 internal investigation effectively cleared Qatar of corruption, and stripping it of the event at this stage could leave it open to legal action.

But yet again it does serve as a reminder of the scandal and suspicion that surrounds the saga of how Qatar won the right to stage the event.

Back in 2015, when still one of the sport’s most powerful figures, Platini told me he had “no regrets” about voting for Qatar, despite the allegations of corruption and human rights abuses directed against the country, and the havoc a winter tournament would play with the European game he represented at the time.