FIFA president Gianni Infantino voiced sadness Monday after his former mentor Michel Platini decided to resign as UEFA chief following a sports tribunal`s rejection of his appeal against a football ban.
Infantino, speaking to reporters after a FIFA Council meeting in Mexico City, said that, as chief of football`s governing body, he must “respect the decision” by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
“On a personal level, of course I`m very sad about this decision. I`ve worked with Michel for the last nine years,” said Infantino, who was Platini`s number two at UEFA before he became FIFA president in February.
“We did some great things in UEFA together and I really want to keep these positive memories.”
The court reduced Platini`s suspension from six years to four, saying the penalty initially imposed by FIFA`s ethics committee was “too severe.”
But the court said it was “not convinced” that the $2 million payment Platini received from FIFA in 2011 was legitimate.
The payment was ordered by world football`s disgraced ex-president Sepp Blatter, who was also brought down over the infamous transaction.
Platini, once the frontrunner to succeed Blatter as the most powerful man in the sport, said after the ruling he had no choice but to resign and would keep fighting in Swiss courts to prove his “probity.”
Asked whether FIFA would seek to recoup the $2 million, Infantino said: “Decisions have been taken today, it`s not the question.”
Infantino meanwhile opened a two-day FIFA council, which is preceding the world football organization`s congress taking place in the Mexican capital on Thursday and Friday.
“It`s my first congress as president, the first congress of a new era in FIFA, focused on football development. It was a big part of the discussions today, how we could invest in football development,” he said.