Soccer_Football_PlayerUEFA announced this morning that it had made a successful application to FIFA’s Ethics Committee for Michel Platini, the former UEFA President, to address the upcoming 12th Extraordinary UEFA Congress on 14 September 2016.

The agenda of the UEFA Congress includes the election of the next UEFA President.

It has been reported that UEFA’s application was made on the ground of allowing Platini to ‘make a short farewell address’ and that the FIFA Ethics Committee granted permission as a ‘gesture of humanity’.

A past President of an organisation addressing its Congress is not unexpected. This past President of this organisation addressing this Congress of this sport and at this time is unexpected.  Why?  Because Michel Platini is currently banned from all ‘football-related activities (administrative, sports or any other) on a national and international level’.  Why?  Here’s a quick summary of the key events in the recent turbulent history of the relationship between Michel Platini, UEFA and FIFA that led to Platini’s ban:

As a result of the corruption scandals that have engulfed world football (only extracts of which are set out above), FIFA has launched a governance reform process that is to pave the way for further significant and much-needed changes to FIFA’s governance structure’.  Good governance is also one of the eleven values of UEFA and it has committed to openness, democracy, transparency and responsibility’ within its organisation.

Platini is a man paying the price for having being found to be heavily involved in his sport’s corruption scandals.  Given the pressure (both political and media) on football to reform, Platini now has a highly unexpected opportunity to address the UEFA Congress and the wider sporting community.  Should he pledge his support for FIFA’s and football’s governance reform process, FIFA’s ‘gesture of humanity’ may yet provide positive evidence that football is getting its house in order; should he fail to do so, it will be nigh on impossible to avoid attracting further criticism to himself and to football’s governing bodies.  Let’s see which outcome the 14th brings for football…

Squire Patton Boggs has experience of advising sport governing bodies on a range of sport governance issues and, in particular, on the impending UK Sport Governance Code. For more information on our services, click here.