Platini lawyers say document could help prove his innocence

Sun Dec 6, 2015 7:36am EST
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By Brian Homewood

BERNE (Reuters) - European soccer chief Michel Platini's legal team believes a 23-page memo published by a French newspaper on Sunday could help clear him of wrongdoing and allow him back into the FIFA presidential race.

Platini, until recently seen as the man to lead soccer's governing body FIFA out of its worst ever graft crisis, has been suspended for 90 days by FIFA's ethics committee while it investigates his conduct.

The final verdict is expected by the end of the month and Platini's lawyers have already said that ethics investigators had recommended a lifelong ban for the Frenchman.

FIFA will hold an election to find a replacement for its president Sepp Blatter, also suspended, on Feb. 26, and Platini, who has registered as a candidate, cannot run while he is banned, although he might be allowed to take part if he is cleared.

The investigation centers on a 2 million Swiss franc ($2 million) payment from FIFA to Platini, a former France team captain and coach who has been UEFA president since 2002, in 2011 for work he completed between 1998 and 2002.

Blatter has said there was a verbal agreement between the two while Platini says the payment was delayed only because of financial problems at FIFA.

On Sunday, French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche published a 23-page memo which it said was presented to UEFA executive committee members in November 1998 and mentioned that Platini was being paid 1 million Swiss francs a year for work he was doing for FIFA.

The newspaper said the memo was presented at a meeting in Stockholm, chaired by Lennart Johansson who was UEFA president at the time.   Continued...

UEFA President Michel Platini attends a news conference after the draw for the 2015/2016 UEFA Europa League soccer competition at Monaco's Grimaldi Forum in Monte Carlo, Monaco August 28, 2015.   REUTERS/Eric Gaillard