LONDON, October 17- The English Football Association on Friday suspended support for Michel Platini’s FIFA presidential bid because of new information on his legal battle.
The new blow to the leader of European football’s ambitions came less than 24 hours after UEFA had given support to its president.
The FA said it had been told of more information “relating to the issues at the centre of this case from Mr Platini’s lawyers” at a UEFA meeting on Thursday.
“As a result of learning this information, the FA Board has on Friday morning concluded that it must suspend its support for Mr Platini’s candidature for the FIFA presidency until the legal process has been concluded and the position is clear,” said a statement.
“We have been instructed that the information must be kept confidential and therefore we cannot go into specifics.”
The French leader of UEFA and former football golden boy had been favourite to take over as FIFA president from Sepp Blatter until he was named in a criminal investigation Blatter faces in Switzerland.
Swiss prosecutors are looking into a $2 million (1.8 million euro) payment that the 60-year-old Platini received from FIFA in 2011 for work carried out a decade earlier.
Platini has strongly denied any wrongdoing but has been suspended by FIFA’s ethics watchdog for 90 days because of the case. His presidential bid now faces major doubts, with talk mounting of alternative candidates coming forward.
The head of the Asian Football Confederation Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa is on the verge of announcing a bid, a football source told AFP.
Others could follow as the February 26 election goes ahead amid mounting turmoil. FIFA’s executive committee will meet on Tuesday and is likely to discuss whether the date can be maintained.
UEFA’s 54 member nations on Thursday released a statement backing Platini’s “right to a due process and a fair trial and to the opportunity to clear his name.”
The European body called on FIFA’s investigators and appeal committees “to work very rapidly to ensure that there is a final decision on the merits of the case by, at the latest, mid-November 2015.”
The English FA and other leading federations in Europe have expressed increasingly cautious support for the Frenchmen however in recent days.
The German, Dutch and Danish associations have all said Platini must clear his name.
UEFA secretary general Gianni Infantino said after Thursday’s meeting that discussions would take place about the possibility of supporting another candidate.
“It’s something that will be discussed by UEFA representatives with members of other confederations, as we’ve done in the past, and we’ll see if another candidate from another confederation or another European comes up.”
FIFA has been in even greater turmoil since Blatter and Platini were suspended over the Swiss investigation.
Both have appealed against the 90 day ban even though Blatter is promising to stand down in four months time.
Blatter won his fifth election in May, two days after US authorities charged 14 football officials and business executives over more than $150 million in bribes. But amid intense pressure over scandals engulfing the world body he announced four days later that he would stand down.
Despite suspending its support, the English FA said it “wishes Mr Platini every success in fighting these charges and clearing his name, and has no interest in taking any action that jeopardises this process.”