Harris says only conviction will end support or Platini
The Barbados Football Association (BFA) will only review its support of Michel Platini to be the new FIFA boss if he is found guilty of corruption.
That was the word from BFA president Randy Harris today as investigators and sponsors turned up the pressure on head of football’s governing body Sepp Blatter, and as more attention focused on Platini’s possible involvement in corruption.
Platini was favoured to succeed Blatter but question marks over a £1.3 million FIFA payment to the former France football captain by Blatter could possibly jeopardize his quest for the top post. Platini claimed the money paid to him in 2011 was for work done as a “special advisor” to Blattter between 1998 and 2002. Platini said the delayed payment was because of financial problems being experienced by FIFA then.
But FIFA financial reports have raised doubts over Platini’s explanation for the payment received in 2011.
According to a financial report published in April 2003 and available on FIFA’s website, world football’s governing body had “a surplus of 115 million Swiss francs” at the close of the four-year cycle from 1999-2002.
Today Harris told Barbados TODAY that the BFA had proposed the 60-year-old Frenchman for the top position at FIFA and would only reverse that decision if Platini was convicted of an offence.
“If he is a candidate, we are backing him. We proposed him and if he is a candidate we have made a decision to support him. All we see is that FIFA paid him the money that they owed him for the work done. That is what we see. If the people in the investigation position change and he is interrogated about corruption that he is involved in, then we would have to look elsewhere. Other than that, we have said we would have support him and at this time we are still supporting him,” Harris explained.
In the same report that contradicted Platini’s explanation for the late payment, FIFA reported an expected total loss of 134 million Swiss francs in May of 2002, because of the bankruptcy scandal that hit International Sports and Leisure (ISL), a Swiss media and marketing firm in partnership with FIFA through the late 1990s.
FIFA earns significant revenue from the World Cup, and so the upturn in its financial fortunes after May of 2002 might have been linked to income from the tournament.
A source familiar with FIFA’s finances at the time said the organisation had enough money to pay Platini at the time he claimed it was enduring financial problems.
“Even though FIFA works on a four-year cycle, with the bulk of the revenue falling in the fourth year –– in this case, the year of the 2002 World Cup –– the financial situation was strong enough to handle such a payment,” the source told AP.
“FIFA didn’t have any financial problems,” added the source.
Today major soccer sponsors issued coordinated calls for the immediate resignation of Blatter in the most significant move by companies supporting the sport since the scandal erupted in May.
Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Visa and Budweiser, companies that have long linked their brand names to soccer, demanded Blatter step down immediately. They said that every day that passed, the image and reputation of FIFA continued to be tarnished.
But Blatter responded by saying he would not resign, setting the stage for a battle over who should take the helm in the next few months before February when elections are set for a new FIFA president. (ML/AP)