FIFA President Sepp Blatter and UEFA head Michel Platini have been suspended from all football-related activities for eight years with immediate effect.
The pair have been punished for breaches surrounding a “disloyal payment” of CHF 2 million (£1.3 million/$2.1 million/€1.8 million) made by Blatter to Platini in February 2011.
Both claimed the payment was honouring an agreement made in 1998 for work carried out between that year and 2002, when Platini worked as technical adviser for Blatter.
Ethics judges ruled that Blatter broke rules on conflicts of interest, breach of loyalty and offering gifts, while Platini breached regulations on conflict of interest and loyalty.
Blatter has been fined CHF 50,000 (£33,700/$50,200/€46,200) and Platini CHF 80,000 (£53,900/$80,400/€74,000).
“Mr Blatter, in his position as President of FIFA, authorised the payment to Mr Platini which had no legal basis in the written agreement signed between both officials on 25 August 1999,” said FIFA’s Ethics Committee in a statement.
“Neither in his written statement nor in his personal hearing was Mr Blatter able to demonstrate another legal basis for this payment.
“His assertion of an oral agreement was determined as not convincing and was rejected by the chamber.
“Mr Platini’s assertion of an oral agreement was determined as not convincing and was rejected by the chamber.”
Blatter, who has been FIFA President since 1998, has already announced he is stepping down ahead of February’s Presidential election.
Platini had been touted as a potential successor to Blatter, but today’s decision signals the end of the Frenchman’s bid.
“Mr Platini failed to act with complete credibility and integrity, showing unawareness of the importance of his duties and concomitant obligations and responsibilities,” added the statement from FIFA’s Ethics Committee.
“His actions did not show commitment to an ethical attitude, failing to respect all applicable laws and regulations as well as FIFA’s regulatory framework to the extent applicable to him and demonstrating an abusive execution of his position as vice-president of FIFA and member of the FIFA Executive Committee.”
German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, the chairman of FIFA’s Adjudicatory Chamber, held disciplinary hearings for Blatter and Platini last week.
In an act of protest, Platini boycotted his hearing in Zurich on Friday (December 18), claiming a decision already appeared to have been made.
The 60-year-old is taking the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, while Blatter’s spokesman has confirmed the 79-year-old will appeal.
Speaking at a news conference in Zurich today, a defiant Blatter said: “I am suspended eight years but I will fight for me and I will fight for FIFA.
“I am suspended eight years, for what?”
The Swiss added: “Mr Platini and myself were asked separately about this since the first day when this happened; it was in a meeting here in July in Zurich.
“We were separated, we couldn’t speak together and we have given the same answer.
“But now [they say] it is not relevant, you know what means? That means that we are two liars – he is and I am a liar.
“This is not correct.
“So therefore with my lawyer, I will use the sporting justice now to go forward.
“We go immediately once again to the appeal committee, to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.”
In a statement to AFP, Platini described the decision as a “masquerade” intended to “dirty” his name.
“As well as going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, I am determined to apply to civil courts to obtain damages for all the prejudice I have suffered over these very long weeks,” he added.
European football’s governing body UEFA has also released a statement saying: “UEFA has taken note of the decision of the FIFA Ethics Committee to suspend Michel Platini for eight years from all football-related activities.
“Naturally, UEFA is extremely disappointed with this decision, which nevertheless is subject to appeal.
“Once again, UEFA supports Michel Platini’s right to a due process and the opportunity to clear his name.”
The ethics inquiry began when the Swiss Attorney General (SAG) decided to open criminal proceedings against Blatter over the payment to Platini.
Swiss prosecutors are also investigating the award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.
The FIFA Presidential election is due to take place on February 26 with five candidates in the running to take over the reigns from Blatter.
The quintet is made up of Asian Football Confederation President Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino, Jordanian FA chief Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, Frenchman Jérôme Champagne and South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale.
All of FIFA’s 209 member states have a vote each with voting taking place by secret ballot.
- This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, www.insidethegames.biz