Countries supporting Platini wary as Swiss probe $2 million payment

Wed Sep 30, 2015 3:10pm EDT
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By Simon Evans

ZURICH (Reuters) - Key nations backing European soccer boss Michel Platini as the next FIFA President are adopting a more cautious approach to his bid while Swiss authorities investigating graft at world soccer's governing body look into a $2 million payment it made to him.

Bookmakers' odds on Platini to win the February vote have markedly lengthened since Friday when Swiss police placed president of 17 years Sepp Blatter under criminal investigation and accused him of making a "disloyal payment" of 2 million Swiss francs ($2.05 million) to Platini in 2011 for work deemed to have been performed between January 1999 and June 2002.

Both Platini and Blatter deny wrongdoing over the affair, part of a broader scandal that began unfolding in May when 14 soccer officials and marketing executives were indicted in the United States for bribery, money laundering and wire fraud.

But a number of federations say they might review support for Platini depending on results of an inquiry into the payment.

While not dropping their backing for Platini, the English, German and Italian federations have expressed concerns over the allegations while the Swedish FA said the case could interfere with their support.

The European soccer federation UEFA said Platini had met with investigators as a witness; but on Tuesday, Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber said Platini was considered as somewhere "between a witness and an accused person".

"INTEGRITY CHECK"   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