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 By Ian Holyman

Michel Platini can still be FIFA president - Sepp Blatter

Ian Darke leads the ESPN panel in predicting the 2018 World Cup winner with names of Germany, Brazil, France and England among the list.

Disgraced former FIFA president Sepp Blatter told L'Equipe that Michel Platini can bounce back from his ban from football to take charge of the governing body.

Platini's suspension and president Gianni Infantino's term both end next year, and Blatter, 82, believes the former France boss can still achieve his ambition of taking FIFA's top job.

"He can always come back. He's 20 years younger than me," Blatter said. "When you've been president of the most important confederation, you can also lead FIFA."

Platini, 62, was president of UEFA for the preceding eight years and had been tipped to succeed Blatter when he stepped down after 17 years in 2015.

Both, however, became embroiled in controversy over a payment of nearly €2 million by Blatter to Platini, resulting in the pair being banned from all football activities for eight years.

FIFA's appeals body cut 24 months off their suspensions, and Platini then took his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which slashed another two years off his ban.

Platini was forced to abandon his bid for the FIFA presidency in 2016, with the post won by Infantino, a former UEFA colleague.

Ian is ESPN's French football correspondent. Twitter: @ian_holyman

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