FIFA’s financial reports, reviewed by AFP on Wednesday, raised questions about claims from Michel Platini that a payment he received from the organisation was delayed for nearly a decade due to financial constraints.
Platini has been questioned by Swiss prosecutors in connection with a two-million Swiss francs ($2 million, 1.8 million euros) payment he received from FIFA in 2011.
The payment is central to a criminal investigation by the Swiss attorney general targeting FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
Both Blatter and Platini insist the payment was in exchange for consulting work done by the former French star between 1998 and 2002.
“Mr. Blatter informed me when I started my role as his advisor that it was not initially possible to pay the totality of my salary because of FIFA’s financial situation at that time,” Platini told AFP in an interview.
According to a financial report published in April 2003 and available on FIFA’s website, world football’s governing body had “a surplus of 115 million Swiss francs” at the close of the four-year cycle from 1999-2002.
But, in the same report, FIFA reported an expected total loss of 134 million Swiss francs in May of 2002, because of the bankruptcy scandal that hit International Sports and Leisure (ISL), a Swiss media and marketing firm in partnership with FIFA through the late 1990s.
FIFA earns significant revenue from the World Cup, and so the upturn in its financial fortunes after May of 2002 may have been linked to income from the tournament.
A source who was familiar with FIFA’s finances at the time, but requested anonymity, said the organisation had enough money to pay Platini.
“Even though FIFA works on a four-year cycle, with the bulk of the revenue falling in the fourth year — in this case, the year of the 2002 World Cup — the financial situation was strong enough to handle such a payment,” the source told AFP.
“FIFA didn’t have any financial problems,” added the source.
Platini told AFP that he “never doubted” he would be paid in full.
“I even put the matter to the side for a while, before finally requesting that the outstanding balance was paid in 2011.”
Asked to comment on how Platini’s explanation — which was similar to Blatter’s — meshed with its apparent financial health, a FIFA spokesperson declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation. – Agence France-Presse