KEIR RADNEDGE in PARIS —- Michel Platini, French president of UEFA, has suffered a rebuff from the Court of Arbitration for Sport which has rejected his plea to have his FIFA ethics suspension lifted.

But this was only one further step along a lengthy legal road. Platini and his lawyers must now put their faith in being able to prove his innocence to the ethics judge Hans-Joachim Ekert next week. If that fails then he will be back before CAS earlier next year.

Michel Platini: fighting for the right to bid for power

However today’s ruling from sport’s supreme court cautioned FIFA not to seek to extend the suspension for a possible 45 days. This is presumably due to the fact that the suspension was imposed only as an interim measure while a full investigation into the allegations was undertaken.

In fact the caution was largely academic since it is the intention of ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert to deliver a definite judgment and verdict within the next 10 days.

Missing the draw

The CAS ruling, after a two-hour hearing on Tuesday, also means Platini must stay away from what should have been one of the highlights of his UEFA reign, tomorrow’s draw here in Paris for the European Championship finals being stayed in his French homeland.

Platini is fighting to clear his name in a race against time in the hope of entering the race for the FIFA presidency. A successor to similarly-suspended Sepp Blatter will be chosen at an extraordinary congress on February 26.

Platini was suspended from football over allegations that he accepted a ‘disloyal payment’ of SFr2m from FIFA, authorised by Sepp Blatter, in February 2011.

The payment issue had been discovered by Swiss police who placed Blatter under criminal investigation and assessed Platini at a status somewhere between witness and accused.

The payment, according to Platini, was for work he had undertaken for FIFA at Blatter’s behest between 1999 and 2002. Platini claimed he had not demanded payment at the time because of FIFA’s financial problems.

Blatter has said that the money had been due to Platini on the basis of a ‘verbal contract’. However, by the long-delayed time Platini claimed the payment, the five-year deadline for honouring the debt had elapsed.

The waters were further muddied at the weekend when – with timing which was clearly not accidental – a French newspaper claimed to have seen a 1998 UEFA document referring to the payment agreement.

Both Blatter and Platini have denied wrongdoing and have been notified that the ethics committee will hear their final submissions next week.

CAS ruling:

LAUSANNE: The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has partially upheld the request for provisional measures filed by Michel Platini requesting that his 90-day provisional suspension from taking part in any kind of football-related activity at national and international levels be lifted until a final decision on the merits of the dispute is taken by the FIFA Ethics Committee.

On 20 November 2015, Michel Platini filed an appeal against the FIFA Appeal Committee decision, notified on 18 November 2015, confirming the decision rendered on 7 October 2015 by the Adjudicatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee to impose a provisional ban of 90 days on him.

The 90-day period expires on 5 January 2016.

The CAS Panel, composed of Mr Clifford Hendel (France/USA), President, Mr Rui Botica Santos (Portugal) and Prof. Ulrich Haas (Germany), determined that maintaining the provisional suspension for the remainder of the 90 days does not cause irreparable harm to Michel Platini at this point in time.

Indeed, the CAS Panel has noted that, at the hearing of 8 December 2015, FIFA’s representatives confirmed FIFA’s assurances expressed earlier that the FIFA Ethics Committee would render its final decision on the merits on or before 5 January 2016, i.e. before the provisional suspension comes to an end.

The CAS Panel also emphasized that, even if the ban were lifted at this time, such measure would not give any guarantee to Michel Platini that the FIFA ad hoc electoral committee would validate his candidature for the FIFA presidential election before 5 January 2016.

However, the CAS Panel considered that the situation would change if FIFA were to extend the provisional suspension for any period up to 45 days, on the basis of “exceptional circumstances” as permitted by Art. 85 of the FIFA Code of Ethics.

The Panel found that such an extension would constitute an undue and unjustified restriction of Michel Platini’s right of access to justice, cause irreparable harm to him and also tip the balance of interest test in his favour.

As a consequence, the CAS Panel ordered FIFA not to extend the current provisional suspension imposed on Michel Platini.