Platini arrested in World Cup bid probe

Michel Platini, the former president of football’s European governing body Uefa, has been arrested in France in relation to allegations surrounding the award of the 2022 Fifa World Cup to Qatar.

French news website Mediapart, which first reported the news, also said that Claude Gueant, the former secretary general of the Élysée Palace who served under former President Nicolas Sarkozy, had also been interviewed as a “free suspect” in relation to the criminal investigation.

France’s Parquet National Financier, which is responsible for investigating finance-related criminal activities, opened a probe into the award of the hosting rights to Qatar two years ago.

Platini backed Qatar at the crucial Fifa vote in November 2010. A month before the vote, he had lunch at the Élysée Palace with Sarkozy and Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, now the Emir of Qatar. However, Platini has always maintained that he had already decided to vote for Qatar.

Platini, who is being questioned in Nanterre, a suburb in western Paris, was banned by Fifa for eight years over a payment he received from ex-Fifa president Sepp Blatter. However, his suspension, which was reduced to four years on appeal, will expire this October.

He served as president of Uefa between 2007 and 2015 and was for a long time viewed as the natural successor to Blatter at Fifa before the pair’s relationship descended into acrimony.

Qatar’s bid team for the 2022 World Cup has already been cleared of any wrongdoing by a Fifa inquiry.