Former Uefa president Michel Platini is targeting a return to football after Swiss federal prosecutors confirmed he is not being charged as part of an investigation into possible financial wrongdoing.
The former head of European football’s governing body was banned by Fifa’s Executive Committee in December 2015, whilst running to replace Sepp Blatter at the head of the world game. Fifa opted to ban both Blatter and Platini (pictured) in relation to an incident in 2011 where Blatter approved a payment of CHF2m (€1.87m/$1.98m) from Fifa to Platini for work done a decade earlier.
The French football legend has since held the status of “between a witness and an accused person” in criminal proceedings opened against Blatter. No criminal case was ever opened against Platini.
Swiss prosecutors have been investigating the payment and French newspaper Le Monde reported on Friday that Platini had been cleared. Switzerland’s public prosecutor's office said on Saturday that although no evidence had been found “so far” to bring charges against Platini, the investigation “is not completely over”.
A spokesman for the prosecutor's office told the AFP news agency that Platini could still be required to appear before a judge if new evidence is found in the case.
Speaking to the Associated Press news agency, Platini said that the news represents “the end of a long nightmare for my family and those close to me.” He added: “I will come back: where, when, how? It’s too early to say. But I will come back into football. Because football is my life and I deny anyone the right to deprive me of my life.”
Platini’s eight-year ban from world football was initially reduced to six years by Fifa’s Appeals Committee. In May 2016, the French football great resigned as president of Uefa after he failed in his latest bid to overturn the ban, with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) instead opting to reduce his suspension from six to four years.
In July 2017, the Swiss Federal Tribunal, the highest legal institution in the country, rejected another appeal from the 62-year-old, stating that the ban did “not appear to be manifestly excessive.” Platini starred for France and Italian Serie A club Juventus in the 1980s and is currently due to be suspended until October 2019.
“I hope that Fifa will have the courage and the decency to lift my suspension,” Platini told AFP.