'Innocent of all charges': Lawyer says Michel Platini is blameless as corruption probe continues
French football legend and former head of European football's governing body UEFA Michel Platini has declared his innocence following his detention over suspected corruption relating to the award of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.
A judicial source confirmed to international news agency Reuters that Platini had been detained for questioning by French police on Tuesday, with Platini's lawyer William Bourdon claiming his client was innocent of all charges and that he was being questioned on "technical grounds."
The Frenchman's detention is the latest action of the national financial prosecutor's office in France, which has been conducting a multi-year investigation into the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. The probe has been investigating possible offenses including corruption, conspiracy and "influence peddling".
"His lawyer, William Bourdon, would like to state as strongly as possible that this is not an arrest, but rather being heard as a witness by the investigators within a framework preventing those being questioned and heard from consulting each other during the process," read a statement on behalf of Platini and Bourdon.
A statement from international football's governing body FIFA stated the organization: "reiterates its full commitment to cooperating with the authorities in any given country of the world where investigations are taking place in connection with football activities."
Representatives from Qatar's World Cup organizing committee declined to offer an immediate comment.
The award of the World Cup to Qatar was met by surprise throughout the football world, with question marks over the timing of games, the exceptionally hot summer weather and the low performing level of the country's national team.
It was also suggested that the rival bids to Qatar's offering - and in particular the runner-up bid from the United States - were more conducive to a better tournament.
French newspaper Le Monde has reported that the investigation is particularly interested in a lunch held by then president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, nine days before the crucial bidding vote. Platini and the then Qatari prime minister Sheikh Tamim Ben Hamad Al Thani were both present.
Platini has acknowledged his support for the Qatar bid over the United States offer, but stated that Sarkozy "never asked him to" vote for Qatar.
Judicial sources told Reuters that representatives for Sarkozy, and his aides at the time, Claude Gueant and Sophie Dion, have also been questioned by police as part of the investigation. Dion remains detained, while Gueant has been labeled a "free suspect".
No statements have been issued by lawyers or representatives for Sarkozy, Dion or Gueant.Also on rt.com Ex-UEFA president Platini in custody amid probe into the awarding of 2022 FIFA World Cup to Qatar