Platini free to return to football but Qatar investigation goes on

Michel Platini
Updated 06 October 2019

Platini free to return to football but Qatar investigation goes on

  • Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter were found guilty of ‘abusive execution’ of their powers and a conflict of interests

LAUSANNE: Former UEFA President Michel Platini is finally free to return to football next week when his four-year ban for ethics violations ends, although he remains linked to a corruption investigation in his home country relating to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The former France captain and national coach went on to become one of the game’s most prominent administrators when he was elected president of European football’s governing body in 2007.

A triple Ballon d’Or winner, Platini was expected to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA president in 2016 but fell spectacularly from grace a few months earlier.

He was banned from football for receiving a 2-million Swiss franc (€1.8 million, $2 million) payment from the head of the world game, with Blatter banned for eight years, later reduced to six, for his part.

The payment, made in 2011 when Blatter was seeking re-election as president, was related to work carried out by Platini between 1999 and 2002.

The pair were found guilty of “abusive execution” of their powers and a conflict of interests.

Platini, now 64, has been battling to clear his name ever since, although his ban was reduced to four years from an initial six, leaving him free to work in football again when the suspension expires on Monday.

With the former Saint-Etienne and Juventus midfielder sidelined, he watched on as Gianni Infantino, once his right-hand man at UEFA, became FIFA president in February 2016. The Swiss-Italian was re-elected in June this year.

Approached by AFP on Friday, Infantino declined to comment on Platini, who made his determination, and bitterness toward FIFA, clear in an interview with Swiss television channel RTS last month.

“I will be back. I don’t know where, I don’t know how. I can’t go out of the game on the back of a ban, even if it’s a ban made by idiots,” he said.

Speaking to French daily Le Monde about what the future holds, he added: “I have had lots of offers and requests to become a pundit, to do the Euros, the World Cup.”


Hazard stunner gives revived Real Madrid win over Huesca

Updated 01 November 2020

Hazard stunner gives revived Real Madrid win over Huesca

  • Belgian forward ends goal drought as he thrills fans with brilliant first-half strike

MADRID: Eden Hazard scored his first goal for Real Madrid in over a year and his team appeared to turn a corner as they beat newly promoted Huesca 4-1 in La Liga on Saturday.
Hazard has had a terrible time with injuries since joining Madrid for €100 million ($113 million) from Chelsea in 2019 but the Belgian will hope his stunning strike from distance at the Alfredo di Stefano can kick-start his career in Spain.

Karim Benzema and Fede Valverde made the win secure before Huesca scored through David Ferreiro, only for Benzema to add his second and Madrid’s fourth in injury-time.

Zinedine Zidane’s side jump above Real Sociedad to the top of the table to cap an encouraging week, which began with a Clasico win over Barcelona at Camp Nou and finishes with them moving nine points clear of the Catalans, who were playing away at Alaves on Saturday.

In between, Madrid came too close for comfort to another damaging defeat in the Champions League but two late goals salvaged a draw at Borussia Monchengladbach that in the end felt like a win.

Huesca, who are yet to win this season, might feel the scoreline was harsh after they squandered early chances.

Madrid will hope the dip that put Zidane under pressure earlier this month is over.

Zidane will have been particularly delighted with Hazard, whose goal was his first for Madrid since he scored against Granada in October last year, and his second overall in La Liga.

Ankle surgery kept Hazard out for the majority of last season and he was not fit for the start of this one, with Madrid only describing his latest setback as a “muscle injury.”

But he made his first appearance off the bench in the Champions League in midweek and against Huesca marked his first start with a brilliant goal in the first half.

Until then, Huesca had been the better team but Hazard’s strike turned the contest in the 40th minute, when he received the ball on the half-turn and swerved a superb shot into the corner from 30 yards out.

Benzema made it two, chesting down Lucas Vazquez’s cross at the back post and driving in, before Valverde struck a sweet half-volley into the corner.

Ferreiro gave Huesca brief hope with 16 minutes left but Madrid were never overly troubled and Benzema rounded off the win in injury-time, converting a smart header back from Rodrygo.