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UEFA backs Michel Platini's right to defend himself

Nyon, Switzerland: UEFA said it supports suspended president Michel Platini's right to defend himself against corruption allegations following an emergency meeting in Nyon, Switzerland on Thursday.

Michel Platini. Pic/AFP
Michel Platini. Pic/AFP

However, European football's governing body stopped short of expressing categoric support for their underfire president. "We support Michel Platini's right to a due process and a fair trial and to the opportunity to clear his name," said secretary general Gianni Infantino at a press conference following the emergency meeting.

"We strongly call on all instances involved in the current process: FIFA's Ethics Committee, FIFA's Appeal Committee and ultimately the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to work very rapidly to ensure that there is a final decision on the merits of the case by, at the latest, mid-November 2015."

Infantino also said that UEFA's 54 member associations were unanimous in agreeing that FIFA's congress in February where a successor to suspended president Sepp Blatter will be elected should not be delayed. Platini's hopes of succeeding Blatter have been hit by his 90-day suspension from all football-related activities as he is unable to canvass support. Infantino said there was support for Platini the man, but made no mention of his FIFA candidacy or his UEFA presidency.

"There were different opinions expressed but what everyone agreed on and stated, whatever their general view was, is that everyone supports Mr Platini as a person for all that he's doing as UEFA president and for European football in his career," added Infantino. "There was really a big support on this fact. More generally, as well, there was really the wish of not condemning anyone based on media articles.

"The truth at the end will be the truth decided by the independent body. There is an independent body recognised by all sports associations and it is CAS." Platini, a frontrunner to take over from Blatter, is being investigated over a $2 million (1.8 million euros) payment made to him by Blatter in 2011 for consultancy work performed years earlier.

Blatter, who is also suspended as part of a Swiss criminal investigation, has already said he will step down as FIFA president, a post he has held since 1998. The vote to succeed him takes place at a FIFA Congress on February 26 next year, a date which Infantino insisted should be respected and not postponed. "The feeling of everyone is that the decision to host the FIFA Congress on February 26 should and has to stand," said Infantino.

"It's absolutely crucial for credibility for this whole process to make sure there's a legitimate, elected president of FIFA who can take over this organisation and that everything is cleared up very quickly so everyone can and move on." Although there was speculation that UEFA would nominate an interim or acting president, Infantino explained that UEFA's statutes did not require such a move as the senior vice-president -- in this case Spaniard Angel Maria Villar Llona -- merely assumes the president's functions.

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