Platini defends Bin Hammam meeting

The Uefa president has rubbished suggestions his rendezvous with the Qatari was linked to the hosting rights for the 2022 World Cup
Uefa president Michel Platini has dismissed a report which linked him to the latest controversy surrounding the decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

The report, in The Daily Telegraph, claimed the ex-France international held secret meetings with former Fifa Executive Committee member Mohamed Bin Hammam, during which Platini was allegedly lobbied into supporting Qatar's bid to host the tournament.

The Telegraph claim comes after reports at the weekend alleged Bin Hammam, who was issued with a life ban from football by Fifa in 2012 over a "conflict of interest" during his time as Asian Football Confederation president, made payments to Fifa officials totalling €5 million in order to obtain support in the run-up to the Qatari bid.

Platini insists his meetings with Bin Hammam were related to the Frenchman's bid to run for the Fifa presidency and has branded suggestions of corruption as "unfounded" and "amazing".

"I am no longer surprised by the spreading of unfounded rumours aimed at smearing my image during an important moment for the future of football. Nothing surprises me!" he said via a statement released to AFP.

"I find it amazing that conversations with a colleague of the Fifa Executive Committee at the time can be transformed into a conspiracy.

"Of course I met Mr Mohamed Bin Hammam on several occasions in 2010, since we were both members of the same Executive Committee from 2002.

"As to the conversations with Mr Bin Hammam, the subject of discussion was the candidacy for Fifa president. Mr Bin Hammam sought to convince me to run for Fifa president in the 2011 elections."

Platini, who made public the fact that he voted for Qatar to host the 2022 finals, has been vocal in his support of the tournament and recently argued that Fifa president Sepp Blatter was wrong to suggest that awarding the Gulf nation the right to the host the finals was "a mistake".

The 58-year-old maintains his decision to reveal his vote is proof of his transparency over the issue.

"I want to reiterate that I am the only member of the Fifa Executive Committee who has stated publicly who he voted for - proof of my total transparency - and that no-one tells me what to do," he added.

The 2022 World Cup has been met with significant opposition in the past 12 months, amidst allegations of corruption and calls from human rights campaigners to investigate the working conditions of construction labourers.

In May, Fifa presidential candidate Jerome Champagne told Goal that world football's governing body was unacceptable in its resistance to corruption enquiries and should co-operate fully with US attorney Michael's Garcia's investigation into the 2018 and 2022 bidding processes.