Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 8th 2016 Contents A60
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Friday, January 8, 2016
Platini withdraws from
FIFA presidential race
NYON---Michel Platini s dream
of becoming the next FIFA pres-
ident is over.
Platini told The Associated Press
yesterday that he remains deter-
mined to overturn the eight-year
ban he was handed by FIFA s ethics
committee last month, but that
the deadline for the February 26
election is too short and renders
his candidacy impossible.
"I m withdrawing from the race
for FIFA presidency," Platini told
the Associated Press in an inter-
view. "The timing is not good for
me. I don t have the means to fight
on equal terms with the other can-
didates. I have not been given the
chance to play the game. Bye bye
FIFA, bye bye FIFA presidency."
Platini s bid to succeed Blatter
and take football s top job was put
on hold because of a payment he
received from his former mentor
back in 2011. Blatter and Platini
were banned for eight years last
month for conflict of interest in
the two million Swiss franc (£1.35
million) payment deal that is also
the subject of a criminal investi-
gation in Switzerland.
Platini said he still hopes to clear
his name at the Court of Arbitra-
tion for Sport. The 60-year-old
Frenchman was not authorised to
bypass FIFA s appeal procedure,
which states that he will only be
able to turn to CAS once FIFA s
appeal committee will have ruled
on the case.
Platini and Blatter were cleared
of corruption charges in December
but suspended for a series of
breaches including conflict of
interest. But Platini, who worked
at FIFA as Blatter s special adviser
from 1998 to 2002, said he has no
regret over the payment.
Without naming them, Platini
asserted that "many national fed-
erations wanted me as president"
and that he received about 100
letters of support as well as 50
The former Juventus player did
not give explicit support to UEFA
general secretary Gianni Infantino,
who has been backed by Europe s
governing body in a candidacy
prompted by the suspension
imposed by FIFA on Platini.
Platini s fall from grace has been
quick, spectacular and unexpected.
Just four months ago, he was con-
sidered the favourite in the race.
But his campaign derailed after
he was questioned on September
25 in a Swiss federal investigation
of suspected criminal mismanage-
ment at FIFA.
Platini was paid in February
2011, just before Blatter began
campaigning for re-election against
Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar.
Platini s UEFA urged its members
weeks before the June 2011 election
to back Blatter, who was elected
unopposed when Bin Hammam
was implicated in bribery.
Few FIFA officials knew of the
Platini payment which emerged
during a wider Swiss probe of the
governing body s business affairs,
including suspected money laun-
dering in the 2018 and 2022 World
Cup bidding contests. (AP)
BARCELONA---Zinedine Zidane will
make his coaching debut tomorrow
when Real Madrid hosts Deportivo
La Coruna in the Spanish league.
The former France great was pro-
moted from managing Madrid s reserve
team, which plays in the third division,
to taking over for Rafa Benitez after
the Spaniard was fired following
Madrid s 2-2 draw at Valencia last
A fan favourite from his five seasons
at Madrid, a warm welcome is expected
for Zidane by the Santiago Bernabeu
crowd. Disgruntled fans had called for
Benitez to be fired following the team s
inconsistent form that has Madrid in
third place, four points off provisional
leader Atletico Madrid.
Here are some things to know about
this weekend s Spanish league match-
Zidane etched his place in Madrid s
lore with his unique combination of
dribbling, passing and scoring skills,
which reached its pinnacle when he
scored a spectacular volley for the win-
ning goal in the 2002 Champions
He now must quiet those who ques-
tion president Florentino Perez s deci-
sion to turn the star-studded squad
over to a coach whose resume is limited
to a year and a half in the third division
and a stint as a first-team assistant.
Zidane has promised to promote an
"attractive, but balanced" style, and
said that he will maintain the trio of
strikers formed by Cristiano Ronaldo,
Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema.
It has been a long time since
Deportivo inspired fear in its oppo-
nents. But striker Lucas Perez, with 12
goals, and an overachieving bunch
coached by former Madrid player Victor
Sanchez del Amo has made Deportivo
a formidable foe.
Seventh-place Deportivo has as
many losses as Madrid does - three -
and rallied for a 2-2 draw at Barcelona
PRELUDE TO BALLON D'OR
Lionel Messi will get another oppor-
tunity to shine against a struggling
Granada two days before he is favoured
to win a record fifth FIFA Ballon d Or
One thing is certain, the recognition
for the world s best player will remain
in the Spanish league, with Ronaldo
and Neymar the other finalists at Mon-
day s gala in Zurich.
TIME TO SHINE
Atletico has risen to the top on the
strength of its defence anchored by
goalkeeper Jan Oblak, who has con-
ceded a league-low eight goals. Malaga
is second with 14. (AP)
Zidane debuts as Madrid coach
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