French minister questions ban on would-be FIFA chief Platini
PARIS (Reuters) - France's sports minister questioned the legitimacy of FIFA's Ethics Committee on Tuesday after it imposed an eight-year ban that appears to have ended his compatriot Michel Platini's chances of becoming head of the world soccer body.
FIFA's outgoing president, Sepp Blatter, and Platini, head of the European soccer body UEFA, were both banned on Monday over a payment of 2 million Swiss francs ($2 million) made to Platini with Blatter's approval in 2011 for work done a decade earlier.
The committee said the payment, made at a time when Blatter was seeking re-election, lacked transparency and presented conflicts of interest, though both men denied wrongdoing.
French Sports Minister Patrick Kanner said he still backed Platini, the favourite to succeed Blatter until he was suspended, and questioned whether he had been given a fair hearing. Platini said "procedural sabotage" was now blocking his path to the election.
Kanner told Europe 1 radio: "We know very well that FIFA's Ethics Committee has been very close to the former managers ...
"I regret this because Michel Platini is in a sense being hounded. Was he able to defend himself under fair conditions? I'm not convinced."
The Ethics Committee operates independently of FIFA; its members are appointed by the FIFA Congress and cannot be members of any standing committees.
Blatter himself accused it on Monday of overstepping its powers, and FIFA headquarters issued only a terse acknowledgment of the committee's ruling.
Platini is a football hero in France, having led his country to two World Cup semi-finals and to victory in the 1984 European championship, as well as helping to organise the 1998 World Cup finals in his homeland, which France also won. Continued...