FIFA’s ethics committee is investigating Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter after criminal proceedings were launched against the governing body’s president.
It is understood the ethics committee is looking into the circumstances of a 2million Swiss franc (£1.35million) payment that UEFA president Platini received in 2011 for work said to carried out more than nine years previously. The ethics committee has the power to order suspensions by neither has been so far.
Swiss prosecutors opened criminal proceedings against Blatter on Friday and Platini – who worked as Blatter’s technical advisor between 1999 and 2002 – was interviewed as a witness by officers from the attorney general’s office. Platini has yet to explain the nine-year delay in payment but both strenuously deny any wrongdoing.
FIFA presidential candidate Prince Ali of Jordan, Platini’s rival for the forthcoming presidential election, said the world governing body has been “shaken to its very core” by the recent scandals.
The Swiss attorney general said Blatter is suspected of criminal mismanagement or misappropriation over a TV rights deal he signed with former Caribbean football chief Jack Warner in 2005. He is also suspected of “a disloyal payment” to Platini.
Prince Ali said: “The need for new leadership that can restore the credibility of FIFA has never been more apparent. We cannot change the past, but we can have a future where FIFA member associations are able to focus on football rather than worrying about the next scandal or criminal investigation involving FIFA leadership.
“We have to accept that changing FIFA is not a matter of choice; it has already changed, shaken to its very core by the scandals that have decimated our governing body and cast a cloud over the entire organisation.”
The chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association Gordon Taylor has said FIFA is not fit for practice, insisting “if it was a school, it would be under special measures”.
Taylor told Sky Sports News: “This just shows that football might be the best game in the world but the governance is one of the worst. If it was a school it would be under special measures.
“It’s not fit for practice at the moment. The biggest and best game in the world deserves better – and it’s got to do better. There are enough ethical people out there to make sure the job’s done properly.
“We need to look at the people, transparency and governance. It needs a whole new broom from top to bottom.”
Blatter’s American lawyer Richard Cullen has insisted “no mismanagement” had occurred.
Cullen said in a statement: “Mr Blatter is co-operating and we are confident that when the Swiss authorities have a chance to review the documents and the evidence they will see that the contract was properly prepared and negotiated by the appropriate staff members of FIFA who were routinely responsible for such contracts, and certainly no mismanagement occurred.”
Platini said he had clarified matters about the payment with the Swiss authorities after being interviewed as a witness.
The Frenchman said: “Regarding the payment that was made to me, I wish to state that this amount relates to work which I carried out under a contract with FIFA and I was pleased to have been able to clarify all matters relating to this with the authorities.”
In 2005, Blatter signed a contract for World Cup TV rights with the Caribbean Football Union, controlled by Jack Warner. Warner’s company later sold the rights on for an £11million profit.