Paris - UEFA's bid to invite its banned president Michel Platini to the European Championship might be thwarted by FIFA's ethics panel insisting Wednesday that he cannot give the impression of still "acting as a football official."
European soccer's governing body had believed a clarification from FIFA ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert gave the green light to invite Platini to its tournament - which starts Friday - despite serving a four-year ban from soccer.
"The letter, signed by Mr. Eckert, says Mr. Platini can be invited in a personal capacity as long as he doesn't perform any official function," UEFA general secretary Theodore Theodoridis said at the Stade de France, which is hosting Friday's Euro 2016 opener between host France and Romania in Group A.
"This will be transmitted to our executive committee and then they will make a decision probably about an invitation for Michel Platini for the whole of the tournament. As for Friday I do not expect he will be there."
But the adjudicatory chamber of the FIFA ethics committee reasserted the terms of the ban in response to the public interpretation by Theodoridis.
"Mr. Platini is currently banned from all football-related activities (sport, business and other)," Eckert's chamber said in a statement to The Associated Press. "He is not able to perform any activity that could create the appearance that he is still acting as a football official. Mr. Platini may, however, attend matches of the UEFA Euro 2016 in a personal capacity."
Attending matches in the VIP areas, mixing with soccer and political leaders, could still give the impression that Platini is there in an official capacity while banned.
Platini's communication team told the AP that the former France great does not currently plan to attend matches at the month-long tournament.
Platini was the chief organizer of the 1998 World Cup, the last major soccer tournament to be staged in France. Its success helped him gain the job at FIFA, which ultimately led to his sanction last year.
Platini was found guilty by Eckert in December of ethics violations for taking a payment of $2m from FIFA in 2011. The money was uncontracted extra salary for working as Sepp Blatter's presidential adviser from 1999-2002.
The race is now on to succeed Platini as UEFA president, with an election on Sept. 14 to complete his four-year term, which ends in 2019.
Slovenian soccer federation leader Aleksander Ceferin entered the presidential contest on Wednesday at a regional meeting of 14 UEFA member federations in Moscow.
Ceferin, a 48-year-old lawyer, follows UEFA vice president Michael van Praag of the Netherlands in launching a campaign. UEFA and FIFA vice president Angel Maria Villar of Spain is another expected entry by the July 20 deadline.