NYON, Switzerland — FIFA vice president Michel Platini criticized a British newspaper for linking him to corruption claims about Qatar's 2022 World Cup bid.
The Daily Telegraph led Tuesday's edition reporting that Platini secretly met with his FIFA board colleague Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar "shortly before" the World Cup vote in December 2010.
The claim follows the rival Sunday Times alleging that Bin Hammam, who FIFA expelled in 2012, paid soccer officials millions of dollars to support Qatar's successful campaign.
Platini, a former star player with France, wrote to the Daily Telegraph editor describing "unfounded rumors which aim at tarnishing my image."
"I find it astonishing that conversations with a fellow member of the FIFA Executive Committee could suddenly be transformed into a matter of state," Platini said in a letter released by UEFA.
The UEFA president said he "obviously" met Bin Hammam, a longtime FIFA colleague and fellow soccer confederation leader, "on many occasions in 2010."
"During those conversations with Mr. Bin Hammam, the topic of the discussions was my potential candidature for the FIFA presidency," Platini wrote. "Mr. Bin Hammam was … trying to convince me to become a candidate for the 2011 FIFA presidential elections."
After Qatar was chosen by FIFA's board as World Cup host, Bin Hammam tried to unseat Sepp Blatter as head of soccer's governing body. Days before polling in June 2011, Bin Hammam withdrew as FIFA prepared to suspend him for allegedly bribing Caribbean voters. Blatter was re-elected unopposed.
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