ATHENS: Disgraced football leader Michel Platini said Wednesday in a farewell speech to UEFA that he felt no guilt over a USD 2 million payment from FIFA that has seen him suspended for four years.
"Just simply know that my conscience is clear, that I am certain that I committed not the slightest fault and that I am continuing to fight legally," the 62-year-old French football legend told a congress in Athens before it elected his successor.
Platini and former FIFA leader Sepp Blatter are both under criminal investigation by Swiss prosecutors over the payment that Blatter authorised in 2011 for work carried out a decade earlier without a contract.
Platini was elected to a third five-year-term in March last year but was suspended in October over the payment and never returned to his office. He officially resigned in May.
The three-time Ballon d'Or winner told the congress of UEFA's 55 members that he was speaking to them "with great emotion."
"You are going to continue this beautiful mission without me, for reasons that I do not wish to come back on today," he said.
Platini, who had also been a FIFA vice president in line to take over from Blatter, thanked all those who supported him during the scandal.
"I would also stress that I bear no grudges against those who have not supported me, everyone has the right to their own convictions."
Platini was originally suspended for six years and though his appeals to FIFA and the Court of Arbitration for Sport have failed, the ban has been cut to four years.
Platini said he had fought as UEFA leader to preserve football from "all the excesses that its planetary success has engendered."
"It is a game, not a product, a sport not a market and a show not a business," said the Frenchman.
After receiving respectful applause Platini left the congress through a side door.