Share
Sports

Michel Platini, a soccer great now touched by scandal

Share

Affectionately nicknamed Le Roi, or The King, Michel Platini bestrode the soccer field with inimitable elegance as the world’s best player of the early 1980s, helping to bridge the gap between the eras of Pele and Diego Maradona.

Repeatedly voted Europe’s best player, the Frenchman instantly recognizable for his unruly mop of hair and his often grumpy demeanor in his later years went on to become European soccer’s top administrator as president of UEFA.

Now his lofty reputation in the so-called beautiful game has been tainted by corruption scandals.

Banned from the sport four years ago for financial misconduct, the 63-year-old Platini was questioned by police Tuesday as part of a separate corruption probe into the vote that awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

Platini denied any wrongdoing and he was later released without being charged.

Trending:
'Looks Like a Hostage Photo': Twitter Users Howl After Harris Staffer Stages Pic to Quiet Bad Press

It is just the latest in a torrent of scandals in recent years that have brought down dozens of soccer officials, particularly from world governing body FIFA, over such offenses as vote-buying, kickbacks and bribery.

“Of all those that have been either arrested, indicted etc., Michel Platini is the saddest and most depressing,” former England captain Gary Lineker tweeted. “He was a footballer, one of us.”

___

CLUB CAREER

Born in 1955 into a family of Italian immigrants living in northeastern France, Platini played the first 10 years of his professional career in his native country, first for nearby Nancy (1972-79) and then for Saint-Etienne (1979-82), with whom he won the French league title in 1981.

He later joined the Italian giant Juventus, where he became a global star in the iconic black-and-white jersey between 1982 and 1987.

With his graceful technique, peerless passing, pinpoint set-pieces and unhurried style of play, Platini led Juventus to two Italian league titles, the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1984 and the European Cup in 1985.

Platini’s winning penalty shot in the final against Liverpool is largely forgotten, overshadowed by the death of 39 people — mostly Juventus fans — in a crush at the start of the game at Heysel Stadium in Brussels.

He was the top scorer in the Italian league for three consecutive seasons, an astonishing feat for a midfielder, before retiring in 1987 at just 32.

Related:
New Retrial Date Set for Man Previously Convicted of Killing Ex- NFL Star

INTERNATIONAL CAREER

For the French national team, Platini’s finest hour came at the European Championship in 1984, when the country won its first major international soccer title.

He scored a tournament-high nine goals in five matches, a haul that included two hat tricks, and was the heartbeat of a famous midfield that also comprised Alain Giresse, Jean Tigana and Luis Fernandez.

Platini was awarded the Ballon d’Or as Europe’s footballer of the year. He also won the award in 1983 and 1985.

One of his biggest regrets was never winning the World Cup with France, which lost semifinals against West Germany in 1982 and 1986. He scored 41 goals in 72 games for France.

COACHING

Platini’s sole coaching stint was with France’s national team, and it didn’t go well.

He took charge in 1988, and the team failed to qualify for the World Cup in 1990, despite having the talents of Jean-Pierre Papin and a young Eric Cantona.

After France was eliminated from the European Championship in 1992 in the first round, Platini stepped down.

He would enjoy more success with the national team as an administrator.

ADMINISTRATOR

His first big off-the-field role was as joint president of the organizing committee for the 1998 World Cup, which was held in France and proved a big success for the host country. France’s multicultural team won the biggest prize in soccer for the first time.

Platini then became part of UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, first as a member of its executive committee and then as its leader after defeating incumbent Lennart Johansson in a presidential vote in 2007. He was the first former player to become UEFA president.

While overseeing the continued growth of the behemoth that was the Champions League — formerly the European Cup — Platini tried to curb spending and opposed the introduction of technology such as video review or goal-line cameras. Under his watch, from 2007 to 2015, more teams were added to the European Championship, and a minimum 10-game ban for racist abuse by players was introduced.

DOWNFALL

While organizing the 1998 World Cup, Platini worked closely with FIFA’s CEO-like top administrator, Sepp Blatter. He helped Blatter become FIFA president in an eve-of-tournament election dogged by claims of vote-buying by supporters of other candidates.

Platini served as Blatter’s adviser from 1998 to 2002, and those ties that bound the mentor and his protege would bring them both down in 2015.

In 2011, Blatter signed off on paying Platini $2 million, a salary Blatter had no contractual authority to approve. Swiss authorities opened a criminal investigation, and FIFA’s ethics committee banned them both, just as Platini seemed to be about to achieve what he would say was his destiny — succeeding Blatter as president.

The latest investigation centers on Platini’s decision to vote for Qatar as 2022 World Cup host. Blatter has accused Platini of backing out of a secret “gentleman’s agreement” to support the United States’ bid to be the host country.

Platini changed his mind after meeting then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy at his official residence in Paris with Qatar’s crown prince, now emir.

___

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports  

___

AP Sports Writer Graham Dunbar in Geneva contributed to this report.

___

Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80

The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →



We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

Tags:
,
Share
The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands.
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
Location
New York City




Conversation

The Western Journal is pleased to bring back comments to our articles! Due to threatened de-monetization by Big Tech, we had temporarily removed comments, but we have now implemented a solution to bring back the conversation that Big Tech doesn't want you to have. If you have any problems using the new commenting platform, please contact customer support at commenting-help@insticator.com. Welcome back!