FORMER UEFA president Michel Platini called on FIFA to lift his ban over a $1.8million (AU$2.8 million) payment after Swiss prosecutors said on Saturday they had found no evidence so far to bring charges against him.
Platini’s lawyer Vincent Solari claimed the former head of European football was now in the clear.
“There are no charges, he will not be prosecuted,” said Solari.
Platini said he had been vindicated after having “a lot thrown at me”, and called on FIFA to now end his exile from football.
“I hope that FIFA will have the courage and the decency to lift my suspension,” said the former France midfielder.
In 2015, FIFA suspended Platini from all football-related activities for eight years, later reduced on appeal to four years, following a $2 million payment he received from the world body in 2011.
The payment, for work done a decade earlier, was authorised by FIFA’s then president, Sepp Blatter, and was made at a time when Blatter was seeking re-election as president.
Both men have always denied wrongdoing.
Blatter is also now banned following the scandal that rocked world football. Swiss prosecutors have been investigating the payment as part of a wider probe into Blatter’s 17-year presidency of FIFA.
The Swiss public prosecutor’s office said Saturday that although no evidence had been found “so far” to bring charges against Platini, the investigation “is not completely over”.
Platini could still be required to appear before a judge if “new evidence” is found in the case, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said.
– FIFA stands firm –
FIFA dismissed the claims from Platini’s legal team, saying he had been suspended for breaching its “Code of Ethics”, not because of the Swiss probe.
“Mr. Platini was suspended for breaching the FIFA Code of Ethics.
The decision was upheld by CAS (the Court of Arbitration for Sport), which confirmed the charges but reduced the length of the suspension,” a FIFA statement said.
“It has always been very clear to FIFA and CAS that Mr. Platini had never been the target of a criminal investigation in Switzerland.” Platini said he would continue his legal battle until he was allowed to return to football.
“My legal advisers will take all the necessary measures to ensure the FIFA suspension is lifted,” he said.
“It has been very difficult for me… I’ve really had a lot thrown at me.” Platini said he believed the suspension had one aim: “Everything has been done to prevent me becoming FIFA president.” In the wake of Blatter’s removal, Gianni Infantino, an Italian who was previously UEFA secretary general under Platini, took over as FIFA president.
The next election for FIFA president is due to take place in 2019.