Zurich - The fallen head of European
football, Michel Platini said he was "happy" following his marathon
hearing before FIFA's appeals committee on Monday where he protested against
the "injustice" of his eight-year ban from the sport for ethics
Platini's hearing will be followed on
Tuesday by that of suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who was also hit with
an eight-year ban.
The former France captain arrived at FIFA's
Zurich headquarters at 12:30 and left eight-and-a-half hours later saying he
was "happy with the way it went".
"It was a good hearing, well led by
sincere people. I was heard by people who are part of the football family. Now
we'll see how it goes," he told journalists.
Platini, accompanied by his lawyer Thibaud
D'Ales, presented his two witnesses - Frenchman Jacques Lambert, the president
of the Euro-2016 organising committee, and Spaniard Angel Maria Villar Llona, a
UEFA vice-president - to prove the existence of the famous oral contract agreed
between himself and Blatter.
Both men were banned by FIFA's ethics
committee in December after being found guilty of breaches surrounding a
mysterious $2 million payment Platini received from Blatter in 2011.
Both men, once the most powerful figures in
world football, have insisted that the payment was part of a legitimate oral
contract reportedly for consulting work performed by Platini a decade earlier.
While most football power-brokers typically
enter FIFA's compound in luxury sedans with tinted windows, the 60-year-old
Platini walked the final 100 metres to FIFA's gate, smiling and looking upbeat
as reporters peppered him with questions.
"I am not fighting for my future, but
against injustice," Platini said.
"If I had anything to feel guilty
about, I would be in Siberia, hiding in shame," added Platini, also a
former FIFA vice president. "I'm very well. There are worse things in
Blatter, FIFA's disgraced president who
turns 80 in March, was also banned over the payment and his appeal hearing is
set for Tuesday.
If the appeals panel rules against them,
both are expected to take their case the Court of Arbitration for Sport in
The notorious 2011 payment is also part of
a criminal probe by Swiss prosecutors targeting Blatter, in which Platini has
been questioned in a capacity that falls between a witness and an accused
Platini boycotted his December hearing at
FIFA's ethics tribunal, claiming that a judgement against him had been pre-determined.
But on Monday he said he would face the
appeals committee "eye-to-eye."
"I have done nothing and I am afraid
of nothing," he said. "We'll see what happens... Maybe this is not
Platini had been the favourite to win
FIFA's February 26 presidential vote but the December ruling levelled the final
blow to his hopes of succeeding Blatter.
He withdrew from the race, leading the
European confederation (UEFA) to back Gianni Infantino, Platini's long-serving
deputy at Europe's governing body.
But UEFA has said it will not elect a new
president until Platini's appeals have been exhausted, meaning the Frenchman
could reclaim his post at the top of European football if his ban is
Platini and Blatter have been the most
high-profile casualties in the unprecedented, wide-ranging scandal that has
seen senior football executives suspended or fired, with 39 people indicted for
corruption by the United States.
The saga has provoked endless discussion
about the complicated relationship between Blatter and Platini, who previously
were allies before the relationship turned publicly sour.
Platini on Monday seemed to dismiss
suggestions that Blatter was responsible for his troubles.
"Is it Blatter who put me in this
situation? Not at all, because he is in the same situation as me, but someone
pushed the button (against me) and I will try to find out who," he said.
Meanwhile, as the two men fight to preserve
their football careers, the campaign to replace Blatter is heating up with the
vote 11 days away.
Infantino and the head of the Asian
Football Confederation Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa are widely seen as
frontrunners, ahead of Jordan's Prince Ali bin al Hussein, South Africa's Tokyo
Sexwale and France's Jerome Champagne.