Platini no longer odds on favorite to succeed Blatter at FIFA

Sun Sep 27, 2015 1:37pm EDT
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(Reuters) - Bookmakers lengthened the odds that European soccer boss Michel Platini will succeed Sepp Blatter as head of global soccer body FIFA, after Swiss prosecutors said they were investigating Blatter over a payment to Platini.

Platini, a former French midfielder and head of European soccer body UEFA since 2007, had been "odds on" favorite to succeed Blatter when FIFA elects its new leader in five months, meaning he was seen as likelier to get the job than not.

However, bookmaker William Hill said it had lengthened its odds on Platini getting the job to 11/10 from 1/3. Instead of being three times as likely to become FIFA president as not, Platini was now likelier than not to lose out.

"He is no longer odds-on favorite," said William Hill spokesman Joe Crilly.

Platini has the strong support of a number of national soccer associations, especially in Europe. However, if he himself were to become the target of an investigation by FIFA's ethics body, he could be suspended, making it impossible to stand.

FIFA was thrown into fresh turmoil on Friday when the Swiss attorney general's office (OAG) opened criminal proceedings against Blatter, who was questioned at his federation's headquarters, on suspicion of criminal mismanagement.

The OAG said Blatter, who has been FIFA president since 1998, was suspected of making a "disloyal payment" of 2 million Swiss francs ($2.04 million) to Platini in 2011.

Platini was also questioned as a witness. UEFA, where he is now president, said the questions concerned a payment Platini received for work he did for FIFA on contract from 1999-2001.

Several media outlets have speculated that FIFA could launch its own an investigation into Platini, Blatter or both, potentially resulting in a provisional suspension that might coincide with the election for a new FIFA boss.   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