UEFA’s Platini criticizes FIFA over World Cup luxury watch probe

GENEVA —

UEFA President Michel Platini is going to keep his luxury watch, even though FIFA wants him to give it back.

Platini criticized FIFA for publicly rebuking football officials who accepted gifts at the World Cup, saying Friday he will donate about $27,000 to charity rather than return the Parmigiani watch given to him in Brazil.

On Thursday, FIFA told officials they had until next month to return the Brazilian football confederation watch or face ethics proceedings for accepting a gift that had more than a ”symbolic or trivial value.”

Platini, one of FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s biggest critics, questioned why the governing body is only now making an issue out of the Parmigiani watches.

”I was very surprised by the FIFA press release. I think that the best thing would have been to call us, to say that the ethics committee has done so-and-so and they’re not pleased,” Platini said through a translator. ”But if the ethics committee was not pleased, they should have told us that four months ago in Brazil, when we received the watches.

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”They were aware that we were receiving these watches because everybody received them.”

FIFA also gave out watches at the World Cup, handing out about 750 Longines timepieces worth 180 Swiss francs ($191) each to delegates at its congress in June.

FIFA told The Associated Press the gift value was ”within the provisions stipulated in the FIFA Code of Ethics” – unlike the Parmigiani watches in the Brazilian gift bags at the congress.

Platini, who is also a FIFA vice president, said he was unaware the watch from Parmigiani was worth as much as 25,000 Swiss francs ($26,600). They were distributed to 28 executive committee members, an official with each of the 32 teams, and representatives as well as members of the South American soccer confederation.

Platini said such gifts were common practice in the football world.

”We all receive watches. I’ve received several,” Platini said, wearing another watch that had been a gift. ”But I was surprised on the one hand to see the value of the watch.”

FIFA demanded that the Parmigiani watches be returned by Oct. 24 to avoid disciplinary action. FIFA said they will be donated to charity.

”I’m a well-educated person. I don’t return gifts,” Platini said. ”I’m going to ask for the value of this watch and I’m going to give to a charitable organization, a foundation, this value.”