Former UEFA president Michel Platini has reportedly been arrested as part of an investigation into the award of hosting rights for the 2022 FIFA World Cup to Qatar.
According to Mediapart (h/t Liam Prenderville of the Daily Mirror), the former France midfielder was taken into custody at the Anti-Corruption Office of the Judicial Police on Tuesday.
In a statement later in the day, Platini’s advisors said the former UEFA chief was not guilty of any wrongdoing, per the Associated Press.
“Michel Platini expresses himself serenely and precisely, answering all the questions, including those on the conditions for the awarding of Euro 2016 [to France], and has provided useful explanations,” the statement read.
Qatar was confirmed as the host of the tournament in 2010, although the decision has been shrouded in controversy.
Not only does the nation have a questionable human rights record, but there have been allegations of corruption within FIFA that led to Qatar being confirmed as hosts, per Prenderville.
Football journalist Simon Kuper provided more details from Mediapart’s report:
Simon Kuper @KuperSimon
Michel Platini arrested in France over choosing of Qatar as host of World Cup 2022. It may be related to the Elysées lunch of 2010 involving him and President Sarkozy and Qatari crown prince, given the naming of Elysée’s then Secretary General as a suspect https://t.co/S8wyCQG2w9
Nick Harris of Sporting Intelligence noted a number of officials who voted for Qatar have faced punishment for improper conduct or have had accusations made against them:
Nick Harris @sportingintel
Platini arrested over alleged corruption in awarding the 2022 World Cup. He and 13 others voted for Qatar. Wonder why? https://t.co/kzYCiyc4wK
Platini was the head of European football’s governing body between 2007 and 2015. His tenure came to an end when he was banned by the FIFA Ethics Committee in relation to a number of regulations breaches.
Per BBC Sport, Platini was initially banned from football for eight years in 2015 over a £1.3 million “disloyal payment” he received from then FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who was also suspended. Platini’s ban was later halved and will expire in October 2019.
According to the, Platini confirmed in 2014 he held a meeting with former Qatar football official Mohamed Bin Hammam just days before the country was confirmed as the 2022 hosts.
Bin Hammam later resigned from his positions in football in 2012 and was banned from the sport for life by the FIFA Ethics Committee after the Garcia report on corruption in football found him guilty of various breaches.