Platini: Probe is 'interesting moment'
UEFA President Michel Platini described the decision by FIFA on Friday to investigate Sepp Blatter as part of bribery scandal as a ''very interesting moment,'' while claiming to be completely ''incorruptible'' himself.
FIFA's planned presidential election on Wednesday has been thrown into turmoil after challenger Mohamed bin Hammam and now the 13-year incumbent, Blatter, were both summoned to face an ethics panel over campaign bribery allegations on Sunday.
''It is a very interesting moment,'' Platini, who is also a vice president of FIFA, said in London after being informed of FIFA's decision to investigate its own head. ''We have some strange days these now, these next days because of that and we have elections. I will go back to Zurich after the final of the Champions League.''
Platini will be arriving in Switzerland on Sunday as Bin Hammam and FIFA vice president Jack Warner face the ethics panel on charges of bribing voters during a Caribbean campaign visit. Blatter is accused of turning a blind eye to alleged bribes by Bin Hammam, the Qatari head of Asian football. All three deny the charges, which came after allegations were leveled by American FIFA executive committee member Chuck Blazer against Bin Hammam and Warner.
Platini, who moved into football politics after an illustrious career playing for France and Juventus, maintained that he has never been bribed.
''Don't joke, never, never,'' Platini said. ''You know the people who are corrupt, they know who can be corruptible. They know I am incorruptible.''
Asked if FIFA is corrupt, Platini responded: ''I don't know, let's (see) the evidence.''
''Football is the most beautiful and popular game in the world and we have to resolve these problems,'' Platini said.
''I know many journalists corrupted too,'' he told reporters at the unveiling of a UEFA-funded pitch at a London school. ''It is not only a fight in football. Football is a mirror for the society and what happens in football can arrive in every part of the society.''
Platini is widely expected to run for the FIFA presidency in four years time. This time, Platini's executive committee at UEFA has thrown its support behind Blatter, who has said he will serve a fourth and final term.
But this mounting corruption crisis could lead to the presidential election being delayed at FIFA's Congress next week.
''I don't know, but you know, to not have elections you need three quarters of the assembly who will say, 'No elections,''' Platini said. ''But I think we will have elections. ... It's an important moment now because we have two cases in the disciplinary (hearings) and I will go to Zurich and know better in two days.''
Up to 25 delegates who have votes in the election were allegedly offered cash bribes at the May 10-11 conference in Warner's native Trinidad, where he is a government minister.
Bin Hammam, who denies bribery, claims Blatter broke ethics rules by not reporting apparent corruption attempts. FIFA's ethics rules require officials to ''report any evidence of violations of conduct.''