May 26, 2018 / 8:46 AM / 24 days ago

Soccer: Platini says cleared by Swiss authorities, plans return

PARIS (Reuters) - Former European soccer chief Michel Platini has said he has been cleared by Swiss authorities of any criminal wrongdoing over payments he received from FIFA that resulted in a ban for ethics violations and that he now plans to return to the game.

Soccer Football - Europa League Semi Final First Leg - Olympique de Marseille vs RB Salzburg - Orange Velodrome, Marseille, France - April 26, 2018 Olympique de Marseille owner Frank McCourt and Former UEFA President Michel Platini in the stands before the match REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

The Frenchman was banned from all soccer-related activities over a two million Swiss francs ($2.02 million) payment FIFA made to him in 2011, with former chief Sepp Blatter’s approval, for work done a decade earlier.

FIFA’s ethics committee said the payment, made at a time when Blatter was seeking re-election, lacked transparency and presented conflicts of interest. Both men denied wrongdoing.

A criminal investigation was opened against Platini, but the former France captain said on Saturday he had been told by the Swiss authorities that had now been closed.

“After (three) years of investigation, the Public Ministry of the (Swiss) Confederation has just restored the truth by officially confirming that no charge has been at any time or will be in the future held against me in connection with my activities for FIFA,” Platini said in a statement.

“This official information from an authority of justice attests definitely of my innocence.”

Platini was initially banned from all soccer-related activities for eight years. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) reduced the suspension to four years.

The 62-year-old added he and his family had been living a nightmare for the last three years.

“These years were difficult and painful,” Platini said.

“My honour and integrity have been tarnished. I was robbed for three years of professional life.

“I will come back: where, when, how? It is too early to tell. But I will come back to football.”

($1 = 0.9896 Swiss francs)

Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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