Platini’s men cry foul

DUSSELDORF: Michel Platini’s camp hit out at what they described as an “amateurish attempt at destabilisation” following an anonymous source saying Lennart Johansson would win UEFA’s presidential vote with 36 of a possible 52 votes. 

Today, the 52 member nations of European football’s governing body will vote here for either incumbent president Johansson or former French football legend Platini. 

A straight majority of the European governing body’s 52 voting associations is required to secure victory. 

Platini’s press spokesman Francois Manardo said: “It’s an amateurish attempt at destabilisation which should not be taken seriously. If someone is certain to get 36 votes, why remain anonymous. 

“To have such a dominant position while all the observers predict a close result – and remain anonymous (...) it would have been better if he had remained anonymous to his parents in order not to tarnish their honour. 

Michel Platini has the full backing of FIFA chief Sepp Blatter as heprepares to take on Lennart Johansson for UEFA’s top post today.

“A credible person in the Johansson camp would not say that. If we are going to play like that, we only have to say that we have 37 votes. 

“One thing is certain in any case. We will not get bored before Friday. It will be one of the most hectic congresses in UEFA history.” 

Amid the controversy, very few national federations have officially or publicly declared their backing for either 77-year-old Johansson, the president since 1990, or 51-year-old Platini, who has pledged to listen to smaller nations. 

But Germany’s powerful Football Association said last week they would back the Swede because of his experience.  

Johansson’s support helped them win the right to stage the 2006 World Cup. 

Germany’s support was expected as is the support for Johansson from most of the other major European federations. 

Franz Beckenbauer, who captained and then coached West Germany to World Cup success in 1974 and 1990, has also thrown his weight behind Johansson in the presidential race. 

Johansson meanwhile could not resist a jibe at his opponent. 

“The most important thing for UEFA is stability and that is what I can offer,” he said. “I have nothing against Michel Platini but he has no experience.” 

FIFA chief Sepp Blatter has also entered the row, appealing for calm before the vote. 

“(They should) stay calm and not make too much noise in the next 48 hours, just up until the election,” he said. 

However, Sepp Blatter has given his support to Platini, saying he has clear sympathy for the man who has accompanied him for 8½ years on his business travels. 

If Platini loses, then his immediate involvement with UEFA will end as he is not standing for re-election to the executive committee following the end of his four-year term of office. 

The Frenchman will, however, remain a member of the FIFA executive committee for at least another two years and could therefore serve with Beckenbauer on that body. – Agencies 

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