NYON, Switzerland (AP) — FIFA vice president Michel Platini has defended his decision to vote for Qatar as 2022 World Cup host after a magazine in his native France on Tuesday alleged collusion among state and football leaders.
"I reserve the right to sue anyone who questions my integrity in this vote," Platini, who is president of European governing body UEFA, said in a statement on Tuesday.
Platini responded after France Football magazine published a 15-page cover story article titled "Le Qatargate" examining the Qatar World Cup project.
The magazine detailed a November 2010 dinner in Paris at then-President Nicolas Sarkozy's official residence, attended by Platini and Qatar's crown prince, Sheik Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.
There, Sarkozy allegedly pressured Platini for political reasons to switch allegiance from the United States bid to Qatar in the FIFA vote nine days later, France Football suggested.
Sarkozy "would never have allowed himself to ask me to vote for Qatar 2022 because he knows that I am my own man," Platini said. "France Football is not making any revelation about this (dinner) in today's article because this is information that I myself made public two years ago."
The magazine, FIFA's partner in jointly organizing the Ballon d'Or world player of the year prize, sought to connect the increasing Qatari influences in French football since the World Cup decision.
The Qatar Sports Investment fund linked to the crown prince bought Sarkozy's favorite team, Paris Saint-Germain, in 2011 and also employs Platini's son, Laurent, as a lawyer, the magazine said.
Doha-based broadcaster Al-Jazeera launched a sports subsidiary, BeIn Sport, which now broadcasts the French league, and holds some rights to UEFA's signature Champions League and 2016 European Championship competitions.
"To believe that my choice to vote for Qatar 2022 was in exchange for agreements between the French state and Qatar is pure speculation and are only the views of those who write these lies," Platini said.
Qatar won the poll of FIFA executive committee members on the same day that Russia, which Platini also supported, got the 2018 World Cup hosting rights.
"I have therefore made my choice independently, following a simple logic that I have always advocated: openness to countries that have never hosted major sporting events," the former France national team captain and coach said.