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An embarrassing end to Blatter and Platini's reign

By Martyn Ziegler

Published 22/12/2015

Hear no evil: Sepp Blatter has been banned from football for eight years
Hear no evil: Sepp Blatter has been banned from football for eight years

Sepp Blatter's 40-year Fifa reign came to a humiliating end as he and Michel Platini, the two most powerful men in world football, were banned for eight years by Fifa's ethics committee for abusing their positions.

Blatter claimed he had been "killed" and "betrayed" by the ethics committee he had appointed while Platini insisted the bans were "a mockery" - but it looks to be the end of the road for both men's Fifa careers.

The bans were imposed by Fifa's ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert for a "disloyal payment" of 2million Swiss francs (£1.3million) 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 (£33,700) and Platini 80,000 Swiss francs (£54,000) 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 facial blemish, vowed to fight the sanctions. He will be allowed to stay in the luxurious apartment provided by Fifa until the appeals process is exhausted, and his final words to the press conference were: "I'll be back."

The 79-year-old 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.

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 - Fifa president since 1998 and general secretary for two decades before that - said he had almost died after collapsing in early November, adding: "They tried to kill me now. But I was safe till the last minute. I was nearly there."

Blatter later said all World Cups had a "bad smell" when it came to bidding.

He said: "All World Cups can have a bad smell.

"But World Cups are not bought or sold. World Cups are awarded on merit.

"All World Cups I have been in, now it's always political intervention that have made the difference between one or the other.

"The World Cup smells of the political intervention. You cannot stop them."

He and Platini both claimed the £1.3million payment was made following a verbal agreement between the pair when the Frenchman worked for Blatter from 1998 to 2002 though not paid until 2011, 13 years after the agreement.

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."

Platini's aim of succeeding Blatter as Fifa president in February's election has been effectively ended, even if he manages to overturn the ban.

Platini said he too would appeal to CAS.

He said in a statement: "This decision does not surprise me. The Fifa ethics commission's procedure against me is a true mockery. It was orchestrated to tarnish my reputation.

"I'm convinced that my fate was decided before the December 18 hearing and that this decision is just a pathetic manoeuvre to hide a true will of taking me out of the football world."

Belfast Telegraph

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