Under pressure UEFA chief Platini loses key advisor

ZURICH: European soccer chief Michel Platini, facing scrutiny over a payment from FIFA president Sepp Blatter, has lost the services of one of his key advisers.

UEFA, the governing body for soccer in Europe, said on Thursday that Kevin Lamour, head of the president's office was taking a leave of absence.

A UEFA spokesman said Lamour's decision was "completely" unrelated to the Swiss investigation of Platini's receipt in 2011 of a 2 million Swiss franc payment from Blatter.

"It had been agreed several months ago that Kevin would take a leave of absence at the end of September after the Executive Committee meeting in Malta," said the spokesman.

"The duration of the leave has not yet been confirmed."

While Lamour's departure is unconnected to the investigation and the scrutiny of Platini, it leaves the Frenchman without a trusted advisor at a difficult time.

Platini, who denies any wrongdoing, is bidding to replace the outgoing Blatter as head of FIFA in February's election.

But before that vote, Platini must deal with a Swiss prosecutor's investigation and a reported FIFA Ethics inquiry into the Blatter payment. The Frenchman must also, like all prospective candidates, pass a FIFA integrity check before his nomination as a candidate is formally accepted.

Platini, until recently the favourite in the election, has been in the spotlight since Swiss police placed Blatter under criminal investigation and accused him of making a "disloyal payment" of two million Swiss francs (£1.3 million) to the Frenchman in 2011.

The payment was allegedly for work deemed to have been performed between January 1999 and June 2002.

Platini says the nine year gap between his work ending and the payment was because of FIFA saying in 2002 that they were unable to pay him due to their financial situation.