Platini withdraws candidacy for FIFA presidency

Fri Jan 8, 2016 4:07am EST
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(Removes superfluous word from first paragraph of late Thursday item)

By Brian Homewood

ZURICH (Reuters) - Banned European soccer boss Michel Platini has withdrawn his candidacy from the race for the presidency of soccer's scandal-plagued governing body FIFA, he told French sports daily L'Equipe on Thursday.

Platini, the head of European soccer body UEFA, was handed an eight-year ban from the game along with outgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter by the federation's independent Ethics Committee on Dec. 21.

Both have been engulfed by the worst corruption scandal in FIFA's history as the sport faces criminal investigations in Switzerland and the United States, where 41 soccer officials and sports entities have been indicted on corruption-related charges.

Former French international Platini has insisted he has done nothing wrong and was still hoping to win an appeal in time to have been allowed back in time for the election on Feb. 26., but said he had changed his mind.

"I withdraw my candidacy. I can no longer (go through with it). I have neither the time, nor the means to go and see the voters, to meet people, and to fight with others," he said in an interview which L'Equipe published on its website.

"By withdrawing, I chose to fully focus on my defense on a case where there's no talk of corruption, falsification anymore, in which there's nothing left.

"It's a matter of schedule, but it's not just that. How do you win an election when you're prevented from campaigning?"   Continued...

UEFA President Michel Platini smiles as he arrives for a hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland December 8, 2015. PREUTERS/Denis Balibouse