Platini silent as FIFA crisis escalates
ST JULIAN'S, Malta (AP):
The hair is greyer, and the frame bulkier than in his footballing prime. But the player with the ball at his feet, standing in the late afternoon sun on a field near the Mediterranean Sea, hardly required 'Platini' emblazoned across his back for the selected onlookers at the private game to know it was the former France great in his comfort zone.
In his third term as UEFA president, Michel Platini still seems to prefer to do much of his talking on the pitch, despite being the most powerful figure in European football and the favourite to be installed as Sepp Blatter's FIFA successor in February.
As FIFA was dragged further into the moral mire with the suspension of secretary general Jerome Valcke on Thursday, Platini maintained months of silence on the tumult as UEFA's week-long gathering in Malta drew to a close yesterday. His renowned Gallic shrug met most questions about football politics when he emerged from the closed-door meetings.
As Platini sat yesterday in a T-shirt and shorts sipping coffee with UEFA colleagues, shaded from the late summer heat near the hotel swimming pool, general secretary Gianni Infantino was left - once again - to be peppered with questions about beleaguered FIFA.
"We played a football match here in Malta between the presidents and the secretary generals," Infantino said at the media conference to close a week of meetings. "We agreed the one who loses the match should do the press conference."
For all the attempted quips, the Italian administrator did address the departure of his opposite number at FIFA.
"We feel, of course, all very sad about the news coming on, almost on a daily basis (from FIFA)," Infantino said.
The latest damaging episode unfolded Thursday after ticket sales agent Benny Alon, who has told journalists he had been a regular golf partner of Platini, alleged that Valcke had been prepared to profit personally from a deal for the black market trading of tickets to 2014 World Cup matches. Valcke denies having a deal or being offered money.