Former UEFA head Platini detained in Qatar World Cup probe

Qatar was named ro host the World Cup in a decision that triggered controversy over its suitability amid allegations of corruption. (File/AFP)
Updated 18 June 2019
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Former UEFA head Platini detained in Qatar World Cup probe

  • Platini’s lawyer, William Bourdon, said his client was innocent of all charges
  • Decision in December 2010 to award the World Cup to Qatar surprised many

PARIS: The banned ex-UEFA chief Michel Platini was held for questioning Tuesday in connection with a criminal investigation into the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.
The French football legend who led European football’s governing body from 2007 to 2015 was taken into custody by French anti-corruption police investigating alleged corruption in the 2010 vote to award the competition to Qatar.
Platini, 63, was in custody and questioned in Nanterre in the western Paris suburbs.

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READ MORE: TIMELINE: The trail of corruption allegations surrounding the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar

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He denied wrongdoing and a statement from his representatives said the facts of the case were “unknown to him.”
The decision to name Qatar as 2022 World Cup hosts triggered allegations of corruption that ultimately sparked FIFA’s worst ever scandal.
France’s Office of the Financial Crimes Prosecutor (PNF) opened a preliminary investigation in 2016 into allegations of corruption, conspiracy and influence peddling surrounding the Qatar vote and also the awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia.
According to Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president at the time, Qatar won hosting rights as a result of a deal with France, derailing FIFA’s own “diplomatic arrangement” whereby hosting rights would have gone to Russia in 2018 and then to the United States four years later.
The French investigation centers on alleged French intervention linked to Platini and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy.
According to France Football magazine, a “secret meeting” took place on November 23, 2010, at the Elysee Palace in Paris between Sarkozy, Qatar’s then-crown prince (now Emir) Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and Platini, who at that time was both UEFA president and vice president of FIFA.
Just over a week later, FIFA voted to award Qatar hosting rights for the 2022 tournament.
Platini dismissed Blatter’s allegations as a “tissue of lies” and denies he was influenced by Sarkozy, whose adviser for sport, Sophie Dion, was also held for questioning Tuesday along with the former French captain.
Platini’s representatives said in a statement: “He has done absolutely nothing wrong and affirms that he is totally unrelated to the facts (of the case) which are unknown to him.”
Platini’s lawyer, William Bourdon, denied that the three-time Ballon d’Or winner had been placed under arrest by the police, as first reported, saying that he had been questioned “as a witness.”
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 Qatar football’s highest-profile tournament ultimately sparked a wider fraud probe that led to the overthrow of Blatter and Platini and the arrest of a series of senior FIFA figures.
Platini led UEFA until 2015 when he was banned from football for four years for ethics violations including receiving a two-million Swiss francs ($2 million) payment from Blatter, who was suspended for six years.
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 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.


Sevilla down Liverpool on Pozo winner at Fenway Park

Updated 2 min 9 sec ago
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Sevilla down Liverpool on Pozo winner at Fenway Park

  • A crowd of 35,654 filled almost every seat in the ballpark, most of them in red to support Liverpool

BOSTON: Joris Gnagnon took out Liverpool midfielder Yasser Larouci's legs at Fenway Park like a baserunner trying to break up a double play.

The Sevilla defender was sent off in the 76th minute for a reckless tackle near where second base usually is in the home ballpark of the Boston Red Sox. Despite finishing with 10 men and facing an increasingly hostile crowd, Alejandro Pozo scored in the 90th minute on an assist from Munir El Haddadi to give the Spanish side a 2-1 victory.

“It’s too early in the season to create headlines by saying things I think in that situation,” Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp said.

“No headlines, ‘Klopp: ...,’” he instructed reporters after the game, tracing the punctuation in the air with his finger. “I want to holiday in Spain again.”

The 18-year-old Larouci remained on the sod that had been laid over the Fenway infield while Gnagnon inexplicably argued the call for several minutes.

“In the locker room, he was fine,” Klopp said, adding that Harry Wilson, who left at the end of the first half after being hit in the face, was also OK.

Sevilla manager Julen Lopetegui said he checked with Klopp after the match and was relieved to hear Larouci was not seriously injured.

“He (Gnagnon) was very worried, because he knows it’s a bad tackle. It's not a good decision,” Lopetegui said. “The most important thing is the player is OK.”

With temperatures in the mid-90s, a crowd of 35,654 filled almost every seat in the ballpark, most of them dressed in red to support Liverpool. The Champions League winners and the Red Sox are both owned by groups led by financier John Henry, making the century-old ballpark seem like Liverpool’s Anfield.

The field was laid out from the third-base side to right field, with the home team bullpen removed to make room. The teams had their benches in front of the iconic Green Monster, the 37-foot wall in left field. Much of the baseball diamond itself was covered with sod; the pitcher’s mound was sawed apart and shoveled off after the Red Sox finished their homestand on Sunday.

After the US national anthem, the fans serenaded the Reds with the traditional “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

To deal with the heat, the game was stopped once each half to give the players a chance to hydrate; the Fenway grounds crew also came out with hoses to wet down the infield, and sprinklers took care of the outfield.

The fans didn’t get to see many of their favorites, with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino all resting from international tournaments, along with goalkeeper Alisson. Liverpool’s top four goalkeepers were unavailable; Andy Longergan, who spent the last season at Middlesbrough, got the start.

Liverpool dominated early, but it was Sevilla that scored first when a ball deflected in the penalty area to Nolito, who made it 1-0 in the 37th minute. Divock Origi tied it in the 44th minute when a header deflected to him at the post and he buried it.

It stayed that way until the 90th minute.

The players on the field — at least those in Sevilla's white kits — didn’t seem to be persuaded that the game was only an exhibition. A tough tackle in the 12th minute resulted in a foul on Ever Banega, and it was upgraded to a yellow card when he slammed the ball into the ground in protest.

Liverpool midfielder Harry Wilson left just before the half after apparently getting poked in the eye. But that was nothing compared to the straight red card given to Gnagnon. He seemed to be the only person in the stadium who disagreed with the call, arguing with the referee while Larouci was attended to.

“We lost 2-1. I hate that fact,” Klopp said. “There are more important games in our history, and hopefully in the future. But I don't want to give the impression that we lost 2-1 and I spoke about hard challenges.”

The teams substituted liberally at halftime, with every Liverpool player except Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced by a substitute. Four Sevilla players stayed in to start the second half.