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FRANCE - World football

France backs Platini for Fifa boss, Interpol issues arrest warrants

Michel Platini (R) with Sepp Blatter on Friday
Michel Platini (R) with Sepp Blatter on Friday Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann

French football personalities and political leaders backed Uefa chief Michel Platini to become head of Fifa after the shock resignation of Sepp Blatter as president of world football's scandal-hit government body. Lyon-based international police agency Interpol on Wednesday issued top-priority arrest notices for two former Fifa officials and four businessmen.

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As the war of Blatter's succession opened, French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius described Platini, who led the French squad to become European champions in 1984, as a "man of great quality" and Sports Minister Thierry Braillard called him an "exceptional leader".

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Sporting personalities joined the chorus with French football federation chief Noël Le Graët saying that there should be a European candidate and that Platini would be the best.

"The European institution is the best organised, the one that best respects the law," he told iTélé TV.

Platini is a "man of integrity" who has shown a "remarkable capacity for innovation" at the head of Fifa, Frédéric Thiriez of the French professional league said on Europe 1 radio.

Platini has encouraged participation by "small" nations at Uefa but has been criticised for being conservative on technology and for backing Qatar's bid to host the 2022 World Cup.

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A representative of anti-graft campaign Transparency International described him as a "weak president of Uefa" on Wednesday.

Fifa needs a strong personality at its helm, Sylvia Schenk told the SID news agency, and she named another Frenchman, Jérôme Champagne, as a "good candidate".

Champagne, a former head of international relations for Fifa, failed to collect the five letters of endorsement necessary to stand in the Uefa election that Blatter won on Friday, only to resign on Monday.

Interpol has issued six red notices - top-level arrest warrants - for former Fifa officials and bosses of sports marketing companies.

They were:

  • Jack Warner, former Fifa vice-president and Caribbean federation president, who was arrested and released on bail in his native Trinidad a week ago;
  • Nicolas Loez, a former Fifa executive committee member and ex-president of Latin America's Conmebol, who is under house arrest in Paraguay;
  • Alejandro Burzaco, the boss of the Argentine company Torneos y competencias;
  • Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, of Argentina's Full Play SA;
  • Jose Mergulies, of the Brazilian companies Valente Corp and Somerton Ltd.

Burzaco and the Jinkises are currently on the run.

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