Dr Webber, a specialist in the cultural political economy of football at the University of Warwick, argues that Platini’s achievements on the pitch cannot mask the impropriety and corruption that the former French number 10 has been complicit in since becoming a member of Fifa’s Executive Committee in 2002.
“As a player, Michel Platini was sublime. Captaining a stylish French team to triumph at the 1984 European Championships, he quite rightly takes his place upon the pantheon of great players in the history of world football; one who ranks alongside the likes of Maradona, Pele, Cruyff and Beckenbauer.
“Since retiring, Platini has taken up a number of key political roles at various levels of the game. Almost simultaneously, he has served as vice-president of the French Football Federation, as head of the European governing body, Uefa, and within Fifa itself. In terms of his experience and credentials, Platini stands head and shoulders above his rivals and appears to be the most obvious candidate to succeed Sepp Blatter when he finally steps down as President of Fifa next year.
"Ironically however, it is this very same political experience that football should be most wary of. It was, after all, Platini’s personal and political links to the Gulf region that proved so instrumental in ensuring that Fifa awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. Since then, Platini, like Fifa and its corporate sponsors, have turned a blind-eye to the human rights abuses that have taken place in that state. Few of his reforms within Uefa – even his much-vaunted Financial Fair Play initiative – have been a success, while his own personal relationship with Blatter has led many to speculate whether much would change with the Frenchman in charge.
“Platini has talked about “bringing football back into the spotlight”. Indeed, given Platini’s politics, this is perhaps of little surprise. It is football that Platini should be remembered for. Post-Blatter however, what Fifa and what the game needs most is a fresh start. For all Platini’s flair on the pitch and political experience off it, this is unlikely to be delivered under his watch.”
Notes to Editors:
Dr David Webber is available for interviews. Contact Alex Buxton, Communications Manager, 02476 150423, 07876 218 166, a dot buxton dot 1 at warwick dot ac dot uk.
Tel: 02476 150423
Mob: 07876 218166