KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, officially, risk career and reputation-wrecking banishment from world football.

The investigatory chamber of the FIFA’s ethics committee has completed its investigations into allegations against the presidents of the governing bodies of world and European football.

Hans-Joachim Eckert . . . judge in the spotlight

Reports “containing requests for sanctions,” according to an investigatory statement, have been submitted to ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert who must decide, firstly, whether to accept the recommendations and if so, secondly, on punishment.

If the recent cases of South Korean Chung Mong-joon and Chilean Harold Mayne-Nicholls are any sort of a yardstick, then Blatter and Platini could be facing suspensions of six or seven years.

Appeals routes

That would prevent Blatter presiding over the election next February 26 of his FIFA successor and dash Platini’s hopes of re-entering the campaign race.

Both men, if sanctioned, will have the option of appealing to FIFA’s own appeal panel and then the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Doubtless both would request a fast-track procedure and also for the imposition of sanctions to be suspended pending a decision by world sport’s supreme court.

Blatter and Platini are both appealing to CAS against provisional suspensions though these cases may be overtaken by more substantive events. Both deny any wrongdoing.

Eckert ordered provisional 90-day suspensions of Blatter and Platini last month pending full investigations. Blatter was referred to the ethics committee after being placed under criminal investigation by the Swiss authorities over two issues.

The first concerned an under-valued sale of World Cup broadcasting rights in 2006 to Jack Warner, the then head of CONCACAF (the central and north American confederation), and the second a ‘disloyal payment’ to Platini of SFr2m in February 2011.

Platini was placed under a FIFA investigation for having accepted the ‘disloyal payment.’

Blatter and Platini have both claimed that the payment was to fulfil the terms of a verbal contract concerning work undertaken by the latter for FIFA between 1999 and 2002.

A verbal contract apparently bears greater legal validity in Switzerland than in most other western commercial jurisdictions. However FIFA was under no obligation to pay Platini once more than five years had elapsed after the completion of his work which included creating the unified international calendar.

Exco members

Both Blatter and Platini were members of the FIFA executive committee in 2011 when the payment was undertaken without the awareness of colleagues, raising concerns over both accountability  and conflict of interest.

Comparisons have been raised with the punishments meted out to Mayne-Nicholls and Chung because both those cases concerned ethics code breaches, albeit in their cases relating to the scandal-racked 2018-2022 World Cup bid process.

In both cases sanctions appeared partly to concern breaches of confidentiality by the two men during the ethics investigations.

Here neither Blatter nor Platini would have any defence: both they and their lawyers have railed angrily and publicly against their own original provisional suspensions and what they consider breach of process by Eckert and his ethics committee.

German judge Eckert will have to weigh whether these complaints concerning his own oversight of the cases might render his continuation questionable if and when CAS considers the issues.

He will then need to assess the recommendations for sanctions as well as further submissions from both Blatter and Platini of rebuttal and/or mitigation.