, the former French great and current UEFA president, remains the favorite to succeed Sepp Blatter
president despite being accused of accepting a $2 million "disloyal payment" from Blatter in 2011 for work deemed to have been done from January 1999 to June 2002, though key European backers have started to express concerns about the allegations
Platini denies any wrongdoing, saying
the nine-year delay between his work as a FIFA advisor and payment was because FIFA's financial situation meant he could not be paid in full when he was still working. (It's been noted, though, that
FIFA reported a surplus of about $82 million for the period 1999-2002.) UEFA said Platini is simply a witness in the criminal investigation of Blatter, but Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber
said on Tuesday Platini was being
as "between a witness and an accused person" in the investigation into the $2 million payment.
Until now, Platini has largely been immune from the scandals that have rocked
FIFA and the international game. He has admitted switching his vote from the USA to Qatar for the 2022
World Cup host country
in 2010 after a meeting, hosted by then-France President Nicolas Sarkozy
at his official residence in Paris and also attended by
senior Qatari officials. He denied being bought by the Qataris
after his son, Laurent
, started working for Qatar Sports Investments, an arm of the Qatari government and owners of Paris St. Germain, as an attorney in November 2011.
Until now, Platini is unique among the six confederation presidents who were in power in the leadup to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup votes in December 2010 not to have been indicted, banned or
reprimanded in the wake of corruption scandals -- and it's been so bad that two of their successors have been indicted.
The first to fall three weeks before the 2018 and 2022 votes were
taken in Zurich was Tahitian Reynald Temarii
. The president of Oceania's confederation was suspended for one year for breaching FIFA's loyalty and
confidentiality rules when he was secretly filmed in a sting by undercover reporters from the Sunday Times who posed as American lobbyists trying to buy votes for the 2022 World Cup bid. Temarii asked
for $2.3 million to fund a soccer academy in New Zealand. In 2015, he was banned from soccer
for eight years
for taking $300,000 for Qatari Mohamed bin Hammam
, the former president of the Asian confederation,
to pay legal costs in the Sunday Times case.
In June 2011, Jack Warner
, a member of the FIFA executive committee since 1983 and Concacaf
president since 1990, quit after FIFA's ethics committee began proceedings against him on at least three separate corruption and bribery charges. The charges related to a meeting of Caribbean Football
Union members he organized in Trinidad for them to meet bin Hammam, who was running for FIFA president against Sepp Blatter. It was revealed brown envelopes containing $40,000 were offered to the CFU
members. On May 27, Warner was one of 14 individuals indicted in a Federal probe into soccer corruption but is fighting extradition to the United States. On Tuesday, FIFA finally got around to banning
Warner -- also linked to Blatter in the Swiss criminal investigation -- for life from all soccer activities.
Bin Hammam's presidential ambitions were derailed when he was banned for life
from all soccer activities by the FIFA ethics committee that investigated the CFU scandal. The Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned the ban in 2012, but Bin Hammam was provisionally suspended
over allegations of financial mismanagement while serving AFC president, basically co-mingling AFC and personal business accounts to dole out tens of thousands of dollars to curry support in Africa
and Asia for Qatar's World Cup bid and his FIFA presidential ambitions. Bin Hammam later quit all soccer activities and was banned for life by FIFA.
In April 2013,
quit, saying heart problems made it impossible for him to travel and fulfill his FIFA duties and those as president of Conmebol, a post he has held since 1986. Leoz,
who is now 87 and resides in his native Paraguay, was also indicted by Federal authorities in May and is accused of being one of the ringleaders in a bribery scheme involving Traffic and other South
American sports agencies and going back more than two decades. He, too, is fighting extradition.
The successors to both Warner and Leoz, Jeffrey
at Concacaf and Eugenio Figueredo
at Conmebol, were also both indicted and arrested in Zurich. Webb, accused of widespread bribery after taking
replacing Warner, is under house arrest at his home outside Atlanta, while Figueredo, liked in the Traffic bribery schemes and also accused of faking dementia so he won't have to take U.S. citizen
tests, remains in jail in Zurich, though Swiss authorities have agreed to turn him over to the United States.
That leaves Platini and African confederation president Issa Hayatou
as the only confederation bosses still in power. But the 69-year-old Hayatou, who would replace Blatter as interim president if he stepped down, has not
escaped unscathed. In 2011, Hayatou was reprimanded by the International Olympic Committee, of which he is a member, for receiving payments from FIFA's former marketing agency, ISL. The BBC show
Panorama in November 2010 had accused Hayatou of receiving 100,000 Swiss francs ($106,000) in cash for ISL in 1995. Also implicated in the ISL scandal were former FIFA president Joao Havelange
, his former son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira
, the former Brazilian soccer chief, and Leoz.
president since 1988, was also linked to charges of bribery related to the award of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. Former Qatari bid committee staffer Phaedra Almajid
said she attended a meeting in 2010 at which Hayatou and two other FIFA executive committee members Jacques Anouma
and Amos Adamu
(later suspended in the wake of the Sunday Times sting) were offered $1.5 million to vote for Qatar. She later retracted the claims, saying she had fabricated them in order to
get revenge on her Qatari bosses after losing her job, but she has since said she was coerced into making the
retraction and reiterated her charges
Blatter has tried to shift blame for soccer's
widespread corruption problems
on FIFA's six confederations. To an extent, Blatter has a point. The widespread corruption among soccer's confederations presidents is no coincidence. The power they
hold sitting on FIFA's executive committee and controlling votes -- Hayatou's African confederation was able to keep Blatter in power in the most recent election because its 54 members voted as a bloc
-- has made them prime targets in bribery schemes related to marketing rights, World Cup hosting bids and FIFA elections.
It should be added that they have been all too willing
participants abusing their positions to amass enormous wealth.