In a stunning takedown of the world’s most powerful football leaders, the FIFA ethics committee has banned Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini from all football related activities for eight years.
Blatter and Platini were suspended from their posts as FIFA and UEFA presidents back in October and have been subjects of an ongoing investigation around alleged mismanagement of FIFA funds.
Both were found guilty of breaches surrounding a £1.3m ($2m) “disloyal payment” made to Platini in 2011. The Fifa ethics committee found Blatter and Platini had demonstrated an “abusive execution” of their positions. Blatter approved the payment as uncontracted salary for Platini’s work as a presidential adviser from 1999-2002.
“Neither in his written statement nor in his personal hearing was Mr. Blatter able to demonstrate another legal basis for this payment,” the judges said in a statement, which can be read in its entirety here. “By failing to place FIFA’s interests first and abstain from doing anything which could be contrary to FIFA’s interests, Mr. Blatter violated his fiduciary duty to FIFA.
“His (Blatter’s) assertion of an oral agreement was determined as not convincing and was rejected by the chamber.”
Both men continue to deny any wrongdoing and plan on appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Blatter was in defiant mood at a news conference he had called in advance of the punishments being made public.
“I’m really sorry,” he said. “I’m sorry. I am sorry that I am still somewhere a punching ball. I’m sorry that I’m as president of FIFA this punching ball. I’m sorry for football.
“I am sorry for the 400-plus FIFA members. I’m sorry. I am sorry about how I am treated in this world of humanitarian qualities. I’m sorry for the Federation Internationale de Football Association.
“But I’m also sorry about me, how I’m treated in this world.”
“I will fight,” he said. “I will fight for me and I will fight for FIFA. Suspended eight years for what?”
Platini boycotted his hearing in Zurich on Friday in protest and has made it clear that he intends to fight his ban.
“Parallel to going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, I am determined to apply to, at the right time, civil courts to obtain damages for all the prejudice I have suffered over very long weeks.”
In addition to their eight-year suspensions, the two men also received fines; Blatter in the amount of 50,000 Swiss francs (just over £46,000). Platini, meanwhile, will forfeit 80,000 Swiss francs (roughly £74,000).