'I am sorry about how I'm treated' - Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini handed eight-year bans
Published 21/12/2015 | 08:11
Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, the two most powerful men in world football, have both been banned for eight years by FIFA's ethics committee for abusing their positions.
The bans have been imposed by FIFA's ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert for a "disloyal payment" of 2million Swiss francs (€1.85million) made to UEFA president Platini in 2011, signed off by outgoing FIFA president Blatter.
Blatter, who made a defiant but rambling appearance at a news conference in Zurich following the announcement, has also been fined 50,000 Swiss francs (€46,000) and Platini 80,000 Swiss francs (€74,000) by the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA's ethics committee after being found guilty of ethics code breaches.
The charges found proven included offering and accepting gifts, conflict of interest, and violating their fiduciary duty to FIFA.
Blatter, appearing wearing a plaster on his face following the removal of a mole, vowed to fight the sanctions and claimed: "I'll be back."
He and Platini both claimed the payment was made following a verbal agreement between the pair when the Frenchman worked for Blatter from 1998 to 2002 though not paid until nine years later.
The explanation was rejected as "not convincing" by the ethics committee, though it did add the evidence had not been sufficient to secure charges of corruption.
A statement from the ethics committee said: "Mr Blatter's 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 president of FIFA, hence violating article 13 of the FCE (general rules of conduct)."
It added: "Mr Platini failed to act with complete credibility and integrity, showing unawareness of the importance of his duties and concomitant obligations and responsibilities.
"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."
Blatter's personal advisor Klaus Stoehlker confirmed to Press Association Sport that he will appeal against the ban and take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne. Platini is likely to follow suit - he had aimed to succeed Blatter as FIFA president in February's election but those hopes have been effectively ended, even if he manages to overturn the ban.
There is also the threat of action from the law authorities in the USA and Switzerland. The Swiss attorney general announced in October he had opened criminal proceedings against Blatter in connection to the 2million Swiss franc payment. The attorney general also stated he had interviewed Platini as someone "between a witness and an accused person".
Blatter, 79, used FIFA's former headquarters in Zurich for his news conference - he hired it as a private citizen, but it still houses FIFA's marketing department - and said he would appeal to FIFA's appeals committee, then the Court of Arbitration for Sport and then the Swiss federal court against the sanction.
He told a packed conference: "I will fight for me and I will fight for FIFA. Suspended for eight years for what? I am sorry that I am a punching ball. I am sorry that as president of FIFA I am this punching ball. I am sorry for football. I am sorry for the 400 plus FIFA team members. I'm sorry about that. I am also sorry about me and about how I am treated in this world of humanitarian qualities.
"Human beings needs to be respected. It has created a lot of collateral damage in the families. My family was mocked. I regret I am this punching bag."
Blatter, who is expected to be allowed to stay in the luxurious apartment provided by FIFA until the appeals process is exhausted, said he had been betrayed by the people he appointed to FIFA's ethics committee, and his final words to the press conference were: "I'll be back."
UEFA said it was "extremely disappointed" in the decision to ban Platini.
A statement from the European governing body said: "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."
More to follow