Michel Platini files lawsuit in France in FIFA case

FILE - In this Feb.22, 2014 file photo, UEFA President Michel Platini arrives at a press conference, one day prior to the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying draw in Nice, southeastern France. Convinced he was the victim of a plot, former UEFA president Michel Platini has filed a lawsuit in France in a bid to prove that former FIFA officials conspired to get him banned from soccer. Platini’s communications team told The Associated Press on Friday, Oct. 12, 2018 that the former France great has filed the suit. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau, File)

PARIS — Convinced he was the victim of a plot, former UEFA president Michel Platini has filed a lawsuit in France in a bid to prove that former FIFA officials conspired to get him banned from soccer.

Platini's communications team told The Associated Press on Friday that the former France great has filed the suit. The Le Monde newspaper reported that Platini filed a complaint for "slanderous denunciation" and "criminal conspiracy to commit the offense of slanderous denunciation."

Platini was banned by FIFA in 2015 for financial misconduct in relation to a $2 million payment authorized by former FIFA president Sepp Blatter. In May, Swiss federal prosecutors confirmed he was not being charged in an investigation into possible financial wrongdoing. Since September 2015, he had the status of "between a witness and an accused person" in criminal proceedings opened against Blatter.

Platini wants to find out how the information about the payment was submitted to Swiss prosecutors, and believes it was the result of an internal leak as part of a strategy aimed at preventing him from being elected FIFA president.

Platini's lawyer, William Bourdon, told the AP that French justice officials have opened a preliminary investigation into the case. A judicial official with knowledge of the case said Platini's lawsuit is currently "being analyzed." The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official is not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

He said the $2 million payment for Platini's work as a presidential adviser for Blatter from 1998-2002 was "regular and transparent whereas some have pretended to acknowledge the idea that it was a baseless and hidden remuneration."

"There are strong indications of a conspiracy aimed at bringing down Michel Platini," Bourdon said.

According to Le Monde, former FIFA legal head Marco Villiger, former FIFA audit and compliance committee chairman Domenico Scala and Blatter are suspected by Platini of orchestrating his fall.

"These three names are among a group of persons who should be heard," Bourdon said.

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