Gianni Infantino: I would not be a FIFA candidate against Michel Platini
FIFA presidential candidate Gianni Infantino says he has the support of Michel Platini and has indicated that he would not run against the UEFA president if his suspension were lifted.
Infantino serves as UEFA's general secretary and he is one of seven candidates bidding to replace Sepp Blatter as the head of world football's governing body at next year's election.
The Swiss native emerged as an alternative European candidate for the Feb. 26 vote after Platini and Blatter were last month suspended for 90 days by FIFA's ethics committee.
FIFA's ethics committee took that decision after news broke that a Swiss criminal investigation is examining a payment made by FIFA to Platini in 2011, at least nine years after he had finished working as an advisor to Blatter.
Platini is contesting his suspension but the former Juventus midfielder will not be considered by FIFA's electoral committee unless his ban is lifted.
Infantino, Platini's right-hand man at UEFA for six years, told L'Equipe that he would not be running for election without the ex-France international's blessing.
"I've been working with him for years," he said. "It's obvious that I have his support -- otherwise I wouldn't have been a candidate -- and I'm not going to be a candidate against Michel Platini if he can and wants to be a candidate."
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There was no mention of Platini when UEFA backed Infantino to bid for the FIFA presidency on Oct. 26 but Infantino says this was not unusual.
"I'm a candidate and I also have to be able to present myself as who I am: a claimant who the UEFA Executive Committee and the European federations have asked to run," he said.
"That said, I was very clear: I'm loyal to Michel Platini. Maybe I'll also be criticised for that.
"I repeat -- if Michel can and wants to be a candidate, I will not be against him, but I have to be able to carry out my campaign, to president my ideas, to convince people, to show the world that in Europe there are not only rich, arrogant people."
At FIFA, Infantino would like to see more transparency in terms of financing and a separation of powers between the Executive Committee and the administration.
He also promised to make football more democratic by giving every football association a say and wants to help people focus on football again -- rather than the seemingly limitless corruption scandals that have rocked the game in recent years.
"At FIFA we should stay in the background, in the service of sport," he said. "Like a referee that we don't talk about at the end of a match because he was good."
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On the pitch, Infantino said he hoped to put an end to a "triple punishment" where a team is penalised for a foul by a goalkeeper with a red card, a penalty and potentially a goal. He also believes that any way technology can help football should be studied seriously.
However, he said that his manifesto is not the same as Platini's would have been.
"For a long time we've had the same philosophy, but we're two different people, with different characters," he said. "It's not the same programme, even if we obviously have a lot of things in common."