Banned Uefa chief Platini pulls out of Fifa presidential race

 
Ross McLean
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Preliminary Draw of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia
Platini was handed an eight-year ban on 23 December (Source: Getty)

Suspended Uefa boss Michel Platini last night formally withdrew his candidacy to replace departing Fifa chief Sepp Blatter in next month’s presidential election at the crisis-hit world governing body.

Platini, along with Blatter, was banned from all football-related activity for eight years by Fifa’s ethics committee in December over a £1.3m payment he had received from the Swiss in 2011.

Both men are appealing their suspensions, although Platini, who had been the clear favourite to succeed Blatter before the allegations emerged, has claimed the timing of the election on 26 February makes his candidature impossible.

The 60-year-old Frenchman was initially suspended for 90 days, which denied him the opportunity to campaign, before the eight-year ban was imposed on 23 December.

“I’m withdrawing from the race for the Fifa presidency,” said Platini. “The timing is not good for me. I don’t have the means to fight on equal terms with the other candidates. I have not been given the chance to play the game. Bye, bye Fifa. Bye, bye Fifa presidency.

“How can one win an election when one is prevented from campaigning. Yet when Blatter announced his retirement, I received 150 declarations of support, 100 official letters from federations and 50 promises. All this in two days.”

Platini has instead reiterated his intention to overturn the eight-year ban, which is set to include referring the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“By removing myself, I make the choice to dedicate myself to my defence against a dossier where there is no mention of corruption, of falsification, forgery, where there is nothing any more,” added Platini. “I would have fought as I have always done in my life but I was not given the opportunity to compete.”