Michel Platini has announced he will step down as UEFA president in 2019 if he fails to win FIFA’s top job in next year’s election.
Platini appeared at a UEFA news conference in Monaco but refused to speak in any detail about his campaign for the FIFA presidency – a move understood to prevent any suggestion that he is using UEFA resources in his bid to succeed Sepp Blatter.
UEFA has already complained about an apparent smear campaign emanating from FIFA’s headquarters, and Platini, who had originally planned to detail his blueprint for FIFA’s future, ensured he did not give ammunition to his rivals.
Asked if he would leave UEFA in 2019 if he fails to win the FIFA election on Feb. 26, Platini said, “Yes. I’m stopping then. That means I may support a limit to the time in office as president.”
He also apologized for not answering questions about the world governing body.
“I know why you [the media] all came and what you are interested in,” Platini said, “and I apologize for not having answered your questions. This wasn’t the right time or place to talk about that.
“I have my UEFA blazer and hat on now; this isn’t the place or time to talk about FIFA.”
Platini also defended UEFA’s decision to allow Greek side Olympiacos into the Champions League despite their owner facing match-fixing allegations. He also insisted UEFA was not conflicted by its deputy general secretary being the son of an Olympiacos vice-president:
“There are 400 members of staff at UEFA and they all support a football club. I support Juventus and you could have asked me the same question with the problems at Juventus.
“People could accuse us of favoritism but we are always transparent and honest. If it was Juventus people would accuse me of favoritism.”
Juventus have also been the subject of match-fixing allegations.
UEFA’s general secretary Gianni Infantino said the decision had been made based on the current available evidence and had been backed up by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“If there is a football organization which is the leader in the fight against match-fixing it’s UEFA,” said Infantino.
Platini also spoke glowingly about English clubs’ financial success – something of a departure, given the fact that in the past he has raised fears about the growing gap compared to the rest of Europe.
“In sport money has always been a key factor, many people in France say ‘why can’t we have as much as English clubs?’ Croatian clubs want as much as France, Iceland want the same as Croatia, then the Faroe Islands as Iceland – it’s all relative.
“English football has seen great investment and tremendous income – it has very good partners and British supporters are some of the best in the world and they watch very good football. I do apologize for speaking so highly about English football!”
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