Former UEFA president Michel Platini has been detained for questioning by French police over the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.
France’s financial prosecutor’s office confirmed to Press Association Sport that 63-year-old Platini had been detained.
Platini, who has never denied voting for Qatar but has always rejected any claims of wrongdoing, was detained in a suburb of Paris on Tuesday morning.
The Parquet National Financier has been investigating the December 2010 decision to stage football’s biggest tournament in the small but wealthy Gulf state since 2016.
Qatar beat bids from Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States in a vote by the executive committee of world football’s governing body FIFA, but more than half of that 22-man panel have now been accused of receiving bribes.
Platini was head of European football’s governing body until 2015 when he was handed an eight-year ban over ethics breaches that was later reduced to four years on appeal.
The ban expires this October and he has previously suggested he intends to return to football politics.
Platini and former FIFA boss Sepp Blatter were banned for eight years by FIFA’s ethics committee in December 2015, although a FIFA appeal body reduced that to six years, for a “disloyal payment” of £1.5million paid by Blatter to Platini.
The pair then made separate appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which upheld Blatter’s sanction but cut a further two years off Platini’s. Blatter has always denied any wrongdoing.
The French authorities have also arrested Sophie Dion, a former adviser of ex-French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and questioned Claude Gueant, Sarkozy’s ex-chief of staff.
Sarkozy’s support for Qatar World Cup bid has been the subject of considerable speculation for several years and it is understood the French authorities want to know what promises were made at a lunch at the French premier’s Elysee Palace on November 23, 2010 – 10 days before the FIFA vote.
At that lunch were Platini, Sarkozy, the Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad al Thani and Qatar’s former prime minister and foreign minister Sheikh Hamad Ben Jassim.
It is no secret that Sarkozy was eager to foster close economic links with Qatar, but the investigation is also looking into the June 2011 deal that saw Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund the French leader’s favourite football team, Paris St Germain, and the subsequent launch of BeIN Sports, the Doha-based media company run by PSG’s chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi. Al-Khelaifi has denied any wrongdoing.
Platini had a glittering playing career, winning the 1984 European Championship with France and also league titles in France and Italy with St Etienne and Juventus. He won the Ballon d’Or in three successive seasons from 1983 to 1985.
UEFA declined to comment on Platini’s detention when contacted by Press Association Sport.
A FIFA spokesperson said: “FIFA reiterates its full commitment to co-operating with the authorities in any given country of the world where investigations are taking place in connection with football activities.”
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