Michel Platini has been arrested as part of an investigation to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.
The former UEFA president is reportedly in custody at the Office anti-corruption judicial police (OCLCIFF) in Nanterres, a suburb of Paris.
The 63-year-old stepped down from his role as head of the governing body in 2016 when he failed to have his six-year ban from football – for ethics breaches relating to £1.35 he received from disgraced former FIFA president Sepp Blatter in 2011 – overturned.
It was later reduced to four years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
That ban is due to expire in October this year, but investigators leading the fight against corruption within football have arrested him as part of the case looking into how Qatar won the right to host the next World Cup.
The former Secretary General of the Elysee under President Nicolas Sarkozy, Claude Gueant, has also been questioned as a ‘free suspect’, according to French investigative website Mediapart.
In addition , the French authorities have also arrested Sophie Dion, a former adviser to former president Sarkozy.
Platini enjoyed a successful career as a player, representing France 72 times and scoring 41 goals, winning the 1984 European Championship.
He also won two Serie A titles with Juventus, the European Cup and was a three-time Ballon d’Or winner.
Platini later managed the French national team between 1988 and 1992, before embarking on his career as a football administrator.
He was elected as UEFA’s sixth President at the UEFA Ordinary Congress in Dusseldorf on 26 January 2007, succeeding the late Lennart Johansson, and was re-elected twice, in March 2011 and March 2015. He became a FIFA vice-president on his election as UEFA President.
The Parquet National Financier has been investigating the December 2010 decision to stage the 2022 World Cup in Qatar since 2016.
Qatar beat bids from Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States in a vote by the executive committee of world football’s governing body, FIFA, but more than half of that 22-man panel have now been accused of receiving bribes.
Platini has never denied voting for the small, but wealthy Gulf state, however, he has always rejected any claims of wrongdoing.
Sarkozy’s support for a Qatar World Cup bid has been the subject of considerable speculation for several years and it is understood the French authorities want to know what promises were made at a lunch at the French premier’s Elysee Palace on November 23, 2010 – 10 days before the FIFA vote.
At that lunch with Sarkozy, was Platini, the Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad al Thani and Qatar’s former prime minister and foreign minister Sheikh Hamad Ben Jassim.
It is no secret Sarkozy was eager to foster close economic links with Qatar, but the investigation is also looking into the June 2011 deal that saw Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund the French leader’s favourite football team, Paris Saint-Germain, and the subsequent launch of BeIN Sports, the Doha-based media company run by PSG’s chairman, Nasser Al-Khelaifi.
Al-Khelaifi has denied any wrongdoing.