FIFA financial statements raise questions over Platini defence
FIFA’s financial reports reviewed by AFP on Wednesday raised questions about claims from Michel Platini that a payment he received from the organisation was delayed for nearly a decade due to financial constraints.
Platini has been questioned by Swiss prosecutors in connection with a two-million Swiss francs ($2 million, 1.8 million euros) payment he received from FIFA in 2011.
The payment is central to a criminal investigation by the Swiss attorney general targeting FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
Both Blatter and Platini insist the payment was in exchange for consulting work done by the former French star between 1998 and 2002.
“Mr. Blatter informed me when I started my role as his advisor that it was not initially possible to pay the totality of my salary because of FIFA’s financial situation at that time,” Platini told AFP in an interview.
But, according to a financial report available on FIFA’s website, world football’s governing body had “a surplus of 115 million Swiss francs” at the close of the four-year cycle from 1999-2002.
This surplus was recorded despite the 2001 bankruptcy scandal that hit International Sports and Leisure (ISL), a Swiss media and marketing firm that partnered with FIFA through the late 1990s.
“Even though FIFA works on a four-year cycle, with the bulk of the revenue falling in the fourth year — in this case, the year of the 2002 World Cup — the financial situation was strong enough to handle such a payment,” said a source who was closely familiar with FIFA’s finances at the time.
“FIFA didn’t have any financial problems,” added the source, who requested anonymity.
Platini told AFP that he “never doubted” he would be paid in full.
“I even put the matter to the side for a while, before finally requesting that the outstanding balance was paid in 2011.”
Asked to comment on how Platini’s explanation — which was similar to that of Blatter’s — meshed with its apparent financial health, a FIFA spokesperson declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.