By Michael Shields
ZSuspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter and European football chief Michel Platini have lost their appeals against provisional 90-days bans by the global football body’s ethics committee, FIFA said on Wednesday.
Blatter and Platini, who had been favourite to take over in February’s FIFA presidential election, were suspended on October 8, engulfed by a deepening corruption scandal as the sport faces criminal investigations in Switzerland and the United States.
The decision by the FIFA Appeal Committee, which rejected the appeals “in full”, was a further blow to Frenchman Platini’s hopes of standing on February 26 because the electoral committee has said his registration will not be processed while he is suspended.
The former France captain and coach, who is not allowed to campaign or engage in any football-related activities until his suspension is lifted, said he would appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the next step in the process.
“Michel Platini has full confidence that the CAS will restore all his rights,” said a statement issued by his spokesman. “Meanwhile, he remains a composed and determined candidate for the FIFA presidency.
“The decision comes as no surprise. It was expected by Michel Platini and his lawyers,” added the statement. “It confirms that FIFA, through its internal bodies, is conducting a one-sided, unfair and biased investigation against Michel Platini, repeatedly violating his right to defend himself.
“Despite his repeated requests, at no time has Michel Platini been able to put his case to the judges, which is simply outrageous.”
If Platini wins his appeal at the CAS, the electoral committee has said it would review his case but, even then, there is no guarantee that he would be able to stand in the election as it would depend on the timing.
Buffeted by a series of scandals over the last few years, FIFA was thrown into turmoil in May by the US indictments of 14 football officials, including two FIFA vice-presidents, and sports marketing executives for alleged corruption.
Blatter, who has been at the head of FIFA since 1998, also faces criminal investigation in Switzerland over a two million Swiss franc payment from FIFA to Platini. Both men have denied wrongdoing.
The payment was made in 2011 for work which Platini had completed nine years earlier, the Swiss attorney-general’s office has said, adding Platini was considered to be “between a witness and an accused person.”
FIFA’s Ethics Committee has said it hopes to have completed the full investigation into Blatter and Platini in time for a final decision to be made on their cases by the end of their 90-day suspension period.
Both men could then face much longer bans if found guilty of contravening FIFA’s code of ethics which, in Platini’s case, would mean he also loses his position as UEFA president.
Five candidates have been accepted for the presidential election and the job of rebuilding the sport’s beleaguered governing body.
They are Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan, Asian Football Confederation President Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain, former FIFA official Jerome Champagne of France, UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino of Switzerland and South Africa businessman Tokyo Sexwale.
Infantino entered the race a day before the deadline in late October and is expected to withdraw if Platini is allowed back in.