KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING: Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini have been rebuffed in bids to have their ethics suspensions quashed by the appeal committee of FIFA.
Last month the presidents of the world federation and of the European governing body UEFA were the subject of 90-day bans imposing pending the outcome of full investigations into allegtions of misconduct in office.
Both men can lodge further appeals with the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Blatter, 79-year-old outgoing head of FIFA, is under a formal Swiss criminal investigation over two claims. The first concerns an under-valued sale of Caribbean World Cup television rights to then-CONCACAF head Jack Warner; the second was his approval of a ‘disloyal payment’ of SFr2m to Platini in 2011.
Platini, considered a responsible witness by the Swiss authorities, has said the payment was for legitimate FIFA work between 1999 and 2002. He is under investigation by the ethics committee for accepting a ‘disloyal payment’ and possible conflict of interest.
Last week Platini’s lawyers failed in an attempt to have his suspension overturned on the grounds of inappropriate process.
Both men have denied wrongdoing.
Time is become ever more an issue for both men. The ethics committee is understood to be making significant progress with the investigation. This would obviate the need for a 45-day extension which is possible under the FIFA Code of Ethics.
German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert is expected to be able to deliver his verdicts before Christmas.
If the allegation were found to be justified then both men would risk suspensions of at least six or seven years. Again, they would have the option of appealing to CAS.
Blatter’s ambition is to be able to preside over the extraordinary election congress in Zurich on February 26 which will choose his successor; Platini’s abition is to stand in that election.
In a statement from his lawyers Blatter – who recently spent a week in hospital – said he was “disappointed” by the appeal committee verdict. He also expressed concern at the delay in puiblishing the appeal committee decision which was taken on November 3.
The statement said:
President Blatter is disappointed by today’s decision of the Appeal Committee regarding his provisional suspension. However, as the opinion notes, the provisional suspension was an ex parte (one-sided) action taken on the sole request of the Investigatory Chamber.
Noticeably absent from the opinion and these proceedings is any evidence of any improper motivation or purpose for the agreement between FIFA and Mr Platini.
The Appeal Committee rendered this decision on November 3 but released it only today, over two weeks later. President Blatter is committed to clearing his name and hopes this inexplicable delay is not an effort to deny him, during his elected term, a fair hearing before a neutral body.
President Blatter will continue his appeals and looks forward to the opportunity to be heard, including through the presentation of evidence and argument of counsel, and thereby demonstrate he has engaged in no misconduct.
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