Platini-blatter

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has alleged that his UEFA counterpart and former pal, Michel Platini told him he faced going to prison if he did not withdraw from the world football governing body’s last presidential election.

Speaking exclusively to Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant, Blatter claimed the threat was delivered through his brother, Peter prior to the May election which the Swiss won.

According to the embattled Blatter  who was later forced into relinquishing his fifth term presidential mandate on June 2 due to the corruption scandal rocking FIFA,  he found his 80-year-old brother Peter crying at the FIFA congress in Zurich on May 29 due to Platini’s threat.

“During lunch, Platini had sat down at my brother’s table and said: ‘Tell Sepp to withdraw from the election or he will go to prison’,” Blatter claimed, stressing that the conversation took place prior to the election but his brother only told him about it afterwards.

However, a source close to Platini, has dismissed Blatter’s claim that the 60 year old UEFA boss threatened him to withdraw from the poll as “ridiculous”.

“This complete fabrication is the latest in a series of attempts from Zurich to distract everyone from the problems FIFA is confronted with,” the source close to Platini said.

“The UEFA president will not dignify these ridiculous allegations with a response,” he added.

But Blatter insists he felt betrayed by Platini,, whom he had had close ties in the past. His words:  “You know, there was a time when our relationship was like that of a father and his son. He worked for me for four years at FIFA, after the 1998 World Cup in France. Together we prepared his board memberships of both UEFA and FIFA. In 2007, he also became president of UEFA, with my direct support.”

Blatter who stressed that Platini has “changed”, said he does not know why the UEFA chief, a former France international player and coach, should have turned against him at his trying moments. “You will have to ask him about his character. I don’t know what goes on in his head,” said Blatter.

Although Blatter was re-elected, despite a corruption scandal engulfing the whole process after seven FIFA officials was arrested over accusations of bribery, the Swiss announced four days later that he would resign. “The mounting pressure on me and FIFA left me no other choice. I was faced with a tsunami,” said Blatter.

“It was a shock. It was not an easy decision to take, but it gave me time to think about what had gone wrong.”

The source close to Platini said the Frenchman is concentrating on rehabilitating FIFA’s reputation following the corruption scandal rather than responding to allegations from Blatter.

“Michel Paltini is currently more concerned with the preparation… of a programme to restore the image and reputation of FIFA,” said the source.

By Olisemeka Obeche (with AFP reports)

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