Banned ex-UEFA chief Michel Platini was arrested on Tuesday in connection with a criminal investigation into the award of the 2022 Soccer World Cup to Qatar.
The French football legend elected to lead European football’s governing body in 2007 was taken into custody by French anti-corruption police investigating the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to the gas-rich Gulf state.
Qatar was named to host the World Cup in a decision that triggered controversy over its suitability amid allegations of corruption that ultimately sparked FIFA’s worst ever scandal five years later.
France’s Financial Crimes Prosecutors Office (PNF) opened a preliminary investigation in 2016 into allegations of corruption, conspiracy and influence peddling surrounding FIFA’s award of the World Cup to Qatar and also the 2018 tournament to Russia.
According to Blatter, Qatar won hosting rights as a result of a deal with the French, derailing FIFA’s own “diplomatic arrangement” whereby hosting rights would go to Russia in 2018 and then to the United States four years later.
The French investigation centres on alleged French intervention linked to Platini and former president Nicolas Sarkozy.
According to the specialist magazine France Football, a “secret meeting” took place on November 23, 2010 at the Elysee Palace in Paris between Sarkozy, Qatar’s then-Prince (now Emir) Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and Platini, at that time both UEFA president and vice-president of FIFA.
Just over a week later, FIFA awarded Qatar hosting rights for the 2022 tournament.
Platini has made no secret of his support for Qatar but denies he was influenced by Sarkozy, whose advisor for sport, Sophie Dion, was also arrested along with Platini.
“It was time to give them the World Cup. I am for that. It’s my conviction,” he said at the time.
Claude Gueant, Sarkozy’s erstwhile chief of staff and former interior minister, was also called in for questioning Tuesday by France’s Anti-Corruption Office of the Judicial Police.
The decision to award the event to Qatar ultimately led to a wider corruption probe that led to the overthrow of Blatter and Platini and the arrest of senior FIFA figures.
Platini, 63, led UEFA until 2015 when he was banned from football for four years for ethics violations including receiving a two-million Swiss francs (1.8 million euros, $2 million) payment from the disgraced former head of FIFA Sepp Blatter.
Qatar has been accused of buying votes in its bid to stage the World Cup and a subsequent report by US independent investigator Michael Garcia unearthed an array of suspect financial dealings, many linked to Sandro Rosell, the ex-Barcelona president who served as a consultant for Qatar.
Platini, a triple Ballon d’Or winner, was expected to succeed Blatter as FIFA president in 2016 before his fall from grace. He has been battling to clear his name ever since.
Barcelona Announce New Financial Boost
Barcelona have announced they’re getting their finances on track.
Barca has issued an official statement communicating that it has received a stable triple B negative rating from the credit rating agency Fitch.
This is an important vote of confidence in terms of the club’s image. It is worth remembering that the club has already reached an agreement with the American investment fund Goldman Sachs, which has loaned the club 500 million euros.
The same fund already injected 90 million euros into the club during Josep Maria Bartomeu‘s presidency, with said loan conceived to aid the development of the Espai Barça project.
In a statement, the club announced:
“The sporting and financial project of the new FC Barcelona board of directors has received a vote of confidence in receiving a stable triple B negative credit rating from the credit rating agency Fitch.
“The credit rating agency gives a triple B rating to companies that are satisfactory at the time of rating, just as has happened to FC Barcelona after their assessment.
“With this BBB stable negative rating the Fitch agency values positively the Club’s financial project, which will have to undergo important readjustments to balance books.
“The confidence shown by Fitch allows the Club to look to the future with optimism and at a moment when the organisation is adjusting is financial viability plan as well as its strategic plan.”
Gerrard Frustrated With Liverpool Links: I Don’t Welcome It, I Don’t Add To It…
The Reds legend is consistently linked as a future replacement for Klopp, who is expected to leave Anfield when his contract expires in 2024.
But Gerrard is unhappy about the speculation as he is “very happy” in Glasgow.
“I don’t welcome it, I don’t add to it. All I do is focus on the job I have here and I’m very flattered and grateful for the position.
“I’m very happy here, I’ve said it on numerous occasions, it’s a huge club, I’m settled, I’m happy and I can continue to develop and keep trying to push this team forward.”
Tokyo Olympics: Nigeria Leads Countries With Highest Figure Of Banned Athletes
Ten athletes from Nigeria have been banned from participating in the Tokyo Olympics.
While the names of the affected athletes were not released, a statement from the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), revealed that a total of 18 athletes have been declared ineligible, with Nigeria being the most affected.
According to AIU, the 10 athletes from Nigeria failed the minimum testing requirements under Rule 15.
“Under the framework of Rule 15 governing National Federation Anti-Doping Obligations, which came into force in January 2019, National Federations are accountable for ensuring appropriate anti-doping measures are in place in their respective jurisdictions.
“Among other things, the Rule sets out minimum requirements for testing on the national teams of ‘Category A’ federations deemed to have the highest doping risk and considered as a threat to the overall integrity of the sport.
“The key requirement in Rule 15 is that an athlete from a ‘Category A’ country must undergo at least three no-notice out-of competition tests (urine and blood) conducted no less than 3 weeks apart in the 10 months leading up to a major event. Only then do they become eligible to represent their national team at the World Athletics Championships or the Olympic Games.
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