The attribution of the Mondial-2022 to Qatar at the heart of investigations in France

Was Michel Platini’s vote in favor of Qatar for the 2022 Football World Cup obtained in exchange for compensation? A lunch at the Elysée between Nicolas Sarkozy, the former footballer and two senior Qatari leaders is at the heart of investigations carried out in France.

On November 23, 2010, nine days before the vote to designate the host country of the 2022 World Cup, a lunch at the headquarters of the Presidency of the French Republic brought together Nicolas Sarkozy, Michel Platini, then head of UEFA, the Crown Prince of Qatar Tamim ben Hamad al Thani – who will become emir in 2013 – and Hamad ben Jassem al Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time.

Claude Guéant, secretary general of the Elysée, and Sophie Dion, sports adviser to Nicolas Sarkozy, appear on the table plan but deny having participated in the meal.


After revelations in the press, a preliminary investigation was opened, then a judicial investigation in December 2019 for « active and passive corruption, concealment and money laundering ».

Financial magistrates and the Anti-Corruption Office (Oclciff) wonder if « a give-and-take deal » was concluded during this lunch allowing Qatar to win the 2022 World Cup in exchange in particular for investments in France, including the takeover of PSG in great financial difficulty, according to documents consulted by AFP.

Michel Platini and Sophie Dion were heard in police custody in June 2019 while Claude Guéant was heard as a witness. Businessman Sébastien Bazin and Laurent Platini, the son of former number ten, were heard this year, according to a source familiar with the matter.

All dispute the facts. To date, no indictment has been issued.

The notes

What was the object of this lunch? One of the notes from the Elysée cabinet seized during searches reveals that Sophie Dion discussed the emirate’s candidacy in March 2010 with Sepp Blatter (boss of Fifa from 1998 to 2015) « listening » and Michel Platini « rather reserved ».

A note written the day before lunch for Nicolas Sarkozy is titled: « Qatar’s candidacy for the World Cup – Michel Platini, its re-election within UEFA and its candidacy for the head of Fifa ». According to this document, the lunch must begin with a tete-a-tete between the head of state and the former footballer, before joining the Qataris.

« Michel Platini should be reserved on this candidacy during the first sequence. Naturally in front of your hosts his position must be more favorable », writes Ms. Dion.

An earlier note states: « Michel Platini is one of the 22 members with voting rights. In this regard, the Qatari delegation hopes to obtain the support of France and Michel Platini ».

« The president never asked me to vote for anyone, but I thought I understood (during lunch) that he supported Qatar, » relates Michel Platini to the investigators, saying he was unaware that the Qataris were also invited. « I said that I was going to vote for Qatar and Russia. After Nicolas Sarkozy was able to take advantage of my vote to play the bullshit (show off, editor’s note) with whomever he wanted », he adds .

Platini’s vote

The former captain of the Blues says he requested this interview to inform the president that he would vote for Russia in 2016 and Qatar in 2022. Two countries « which had never had the World Cup and it was important for the development football to go all over the world », he argues.

However, Michel Platini did not always support the candidacy of the emirate, which he considered « crazy » and he had even assured the United States of his support, recalls in a hearing his former adviser to UEFA, William Gaillard.

In addition, Sepp Blatter, heard in November 2021, affirms that Michel Platini announced to him after lunch: « Sepp, we have a problem. (…) You can no longer count on me and my votes for the United States « .

A consensus had been reached by Fifa to designate Russia for the 2016 World Cup and the United States for the following edition. What the former UEFA boss disputes.

The sale of PSG

A few months after this lunch, Paris Saint-Germain, owned by the American fund Colony Capital, was sold for 76 million euros to the sovereign fund Qatar Sports Investments (QSI).

Representative of Colony Capital in France and close to Nicolas Sarkozy, Sébastien Bazin sends text messages that intrigue the investigators.

On November 23, 2010, he informed an acquaintance: « NS has just called me, he is having lunch today with his Excellency Tamim at the Elysée… gave him the key messages ». Then the next day: « NS called me back, His Excellency confirmed that the deal would be made after December 2 », the day of the vote.

At the end of December, in the midst of negotiations on the sale of PSG, he asked Claude Guéant to contact Crown Prince Tamim.

The employment of Laurent Platini

A search at Colony Capital in June 2019 led to the seizure of a handwritten note dated April 28, 2011 evoking the distribution of capital (« 70/30? ») followed by the mention « Laurent Platini back OK (salary EUR150,000 check!) « .

That day, Sébastien Bazin finalized the sale of the club with Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, representative of QSI and future president of PSG. In December 2011, Laurent Platini became temporary general manager of equipment manufacturer Burrda Sport, a subsidiary of the QSI fund.

This hiring « has no connection » with the acquisition of PSG and « was never discussed during the negotiations for the sale of the club », affirms Mr. Bazin, who has become CEO of the Accor group, according to Complément d’Enquête. In front of the investigators, Michel Platini assures that his son « does not need (him) to obtain these different positions ».

Arms contract?

On the preparatory note for lunch, a section concerns « other bilateral subjects » to be addressed « in the event of an aside », with the mentions « combat aircraft » and « global anti-missile defense ».

In addition, the next day, Claude Guéant met Ghanim Bin Saad al Saad, director of the Qatari sovereign fund Diar. It is the weapons adviser who writes a note to prepare for this interview. There is « no link » between lunch and this meeting, responds to investigators Mr. Guéant.

The Dassault group sold, in 2015 under the presidency of François Hollande, 24 Rafale to the gas emirate, which ordered 37 in total. Amount of the contract: 6.3 billion euros.

Other counterparties

Investigators are also wondering about other possible counterparties. Elected MP in 2012, Sophie Dion became vice-president of the France-Qatar group in the National Assembly. Then obtains a chair at the University of the Sorbonne on « Ethics and safety in sport » financed by a Qatari foundation.

In the fall of 2021, the Blast media published documents referring to sums paid to Nicolas Sarkozy, his wife Carla Bruni, Michel and Laurent Platini, Claude Guéant and Sepp Blatter for a total amount of EUR 19 million by the Qatari authorities via sovereign wealth funds as a reward for supporting their candidacy.

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