PARIS, France (CelebrityAccess) — Michel Platini, the French soccer legend and the former president of European soccer’s governing body, UEFA, has been arrested by French authorities as part of an investigation into allegations of corruption surrounding the selection of Qatar as the host city for the 2022 World Cup.
According to the French newspaper Le Monde, Platini was detained after an investigation by France’s Anti-Corruption Office of the Judicial Police into the awarding of both the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Le Monde reported that Sophie Dion, a former advisor to former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, has also been detained in relation to the investigation.
Before it won the bid, Qatar was largely seen as an unlikely nation to secure the host status for the 2022 games, over concerns about inclement temperatures and the surprise decision to award the games to Qatar raised questions about the bidding process.
According to Le Monde, French investigators were particularly interested in a lunch organized on 23 November 2010 at the Elysee, the official residence of France’s president. Le Monde reported that the meeting was attended by Sarkozy, Platini and Qatari officials.
Disgraced FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who was embroiled in his own corruption scandal in 2015, further fueled speculation when he suggested that Sarkozy, who was President of France from May 2007 until May 2012, played a key role in securing the bid for Qatar.
“Qatar won thanks to the intervention of high-level politicians in France. That’s known and proven,” Blatter, referring to Sarkozy, told French television broadcasters in 2017.
Platini, who was also ousted in a corruption scandal in 2015, has insisted that the meeting at the Elysee did not influence his decision to vote for Qatar.
“Sarkozy never asked me to vote for Qatar, but I knew what would be good,” he told the AP in 2015.
FIFA’s own internal investigation of the bidding process for the World Cup cast a further pall over the games. American attorney Michael Garcia, who conducted the review, found that some of Qatar’s conduct “may not have met the standards” set by FIFA, but ultimately concluded that there was “no evidence of improper activity” by the bidding team.