Day of FIFA reckoning for Blatter, Platini
ZURICH: The fate of the two most powerful men in football will be decided in Zurich on Monday with Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini bracing for lengthy bans as FIFA’s ethics watchdog gives its verdict on a murky multi-million-dollar payment.
FIFA president Blatter, 79, and vice president Platini, 60, were suspended after Swiss prosecutors started a criminal investigation into the cash transfer that Blatter approved for Platini in 2011.
The FIFA judges’ ruling is set to have far-reaching repercussions. Lengthy bans for both men would effectively spell the end of their careers in football administration.
Reports have said suspensions of around seven years are likely. That would bring an inglorious end to Blatter’s 17-year reign over world football.
A ban for Platini would deal a fatal blow to the European football chief’s hopes of taking over as head of FIFA when an election for a new president is held on February 26.
FIFA investigators have sought life bans against Blatter and Platini and both men have signalled that appeals will be made.
Blatter told Swiss newspaper Blick on Sunday that he was informed corruption charges against him have been dropped. But he is still believed to face charges of mismanagement and conflict of interest.
Multiple scandals that have hit world football have intensified the spotlight on the inquiry into a two million Swiss franc ($2 million/1.8 million euro) payment that the FIFA leader authorised for Platini.
The money was for work that the French football legend carried out as a consultant from 1998 to 2002.
There was no contract and details of the sum owed only appeared in FIFA’s accounts after it was paid in 2011.
Blatter was at the time seeking support for a fourth term as FIFA leader and facing a challenge from Mohamed Bin Hammam of Qatar.
Platini endorsed Blatter for the presidency but he has insisted there was no link between the payment and the election.