Platini's Euro dream descends into a nightmare

In 1984, France hosted the European Championship in the pinnacle moment of Michel Platini's playing career. He scored in all five games, nine goals in all, as the Bleus won their first major championship. Their 3-2 comeback win over Portugal in the semifinals is one of the great games in modern history.

Bruce Arena and Bob Bradley, then young college coaches, were in the crowd at Marseille's Velodrome stadium and influenced by Platini and great French midfield. They were among the lucky ones. Euro 1984 consisted of only eight teams and featured minimal media coverage.

France will host the European Championship again next summer. For the first time, the tournament will feature 24 teams, up from 16 first introduced in 1996. The draw will be held on Saturday -- ESPN2 will feature a 90-minute program at noon ET -- but Platini won't be there.

On Friday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld Platini's 90-day provisional ban by FIFA ethics committee from all soccer activities -- most notably, his FIFA presidential campaign but also Saturday's draw -- as he is suspected, along with FIFA president Sepp Blatter, of corruption in connection with a $2 million payment made to Platini in 2011 on the eve of Blatter's re-election for work supposedly done years before.

Platini moved from the playing field to coaching -- he coached France at Euro 1992 -- and then to the executive ranks, first as a Blatter adviser and since 2007 as UEFA president. Three years later, Platini's dream of returning the European Championship to France was fulfilled when France edged Turkey in a 7-6 vote to host the 2016 finals.

He should know soon whether he'll be able to attend next summer's finals, as either FIFA or UEFA president. The ethics committee should issue its findings Dec. 21. After that, the case will surely be appealed to the CAS, whose decision to uphold the 90-day suspension that expires in early January was made in part because it knew it might hear from Platini (with Blatter in tow) again.

That looked more likely after comments from the spokesperson for the ethics committee's investigatory body, who told L'Equipe that "Platini will certainly be suspended for several years."

Andreas Bantel quoted was also by L'Equipe as saying, "As for Blatter, there is no difference for him between a suspension of a few years and a life ban."

Platini's lawyers immediately argued that Bantel's comments prejudiced the case, but any punishment will be handed down by the ethics committee's separate judicial chamber. Platini's lawyers also believe they have evidence backing the claim of Platini and Blatter that the Frenchman had a verbal contract to work for FIFA for $1 million year.

Bantel's position: That alone won't save Platini.

"Suppose even the charge of corruption is not accepted by the chamber, there are many others offenses such as a conflict of interest, mismanagement or falsification of accounts," said Bantel. "All of this is sufficient to suspend Blatter and Platini for several years."
1 comment about "Platini's Euro dream descends into a nightmare".
  1. Kenneth Barr, December 11, 2015 at 10:46 p.m.

    God help FIFA if Platini ever becomes its president. For starters, he will re-establish European hegemony over world football. We need a ture reformer, not another self absorbed European. Vote Prince Ali.

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