Tables turned as Platini pushed onto the defensive

Mon Sep 28, 2015 2:47pm EDT
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By Brian Homewood

ZURICH (Reuters) - Favourite to win February's FIFA presidential election until the end of last week, Michel Platini is suddenly facing the same doubts and criticism which he has himself cast upon incumbent Sepp Blatter.

Platini, head of European soccer's governing body UEFA, has been forced onto the back foot after his name was involved in a transaction which led to Swiss authorities opening criminal proceedings against Blatter on Friday.

His chances of standing at all in February’s election, let alone winning it, now appear to hang in the balance.

Although Platini was only interviewed as a witness in the case, he has been criticized over his response while other aspects of his career and personality, which had previously escaped scrutiny, have been brought into the open.

His apparent aloofness, his mood swings and his long-standing role on scandal-plagued FIFA's executive committee are suddenly under the spotlight.

For a long time, Platini, who can win people over with his charm or just as easily dismiss them brusquely with a shrug, has seemed the obvious successor to Blatter who has weathered one crisis after another in his 17 years as FIFA president.

A former international, he was one of the most gifted players of his generation and inspired a French team which played with an exuberant Gallic flourish that delighted international audiences during the early to mid 1980s.

He went on to coach the national team, then played a key role in helping France host the 1998 World Cup before moving on to become a member of the FIFA and UEFA executive committees in 2002 and, finally, UEFA president in 2007.   Continued...

UEFA President Michel Platini is seen before 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