Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Banished! - FIFA bans Blatter, Platini for eight years

Published:Tuesday | December 22, 2015 | 12:15 PM

Banished from soccer’s ruling body for eight years for unethical conduct, Sepp Blatter won’t give up the presidency of his beloved FIFA without a fight. “I will fight.

I will fight until the end,” Blatter said yesterday at a news conference that started 90 minutes after he and former protegé Michel Platini were each banned by FIFA’s ethics committee.

It was a stunning removal of world soccer’s most powerful leaders over a $2-million payment by FIFA to Platini, the president of European soccer’s ruling body, UEFA. The payment is also the subject of a criminal investigation in Switzerland.

“I’m sad. It can’t go on this way. It’s not possible,” said the 79-year-old Blatter, who has spent more than half his life working for soccer’s scandal-hit governing body. “After 40 years, it can’t happen this way. I’m fighting to restore my rights.”

Already serving a provisional ban, the elected FIFA president and his long-time likely successor were kicked out of the sport just two months before 209 member federations elect a new leader.

‘TRUE MOCKERY’ Platini, a FIFA vice-president whose bid to succeed Blatter on February 26 now looks over, described the proceedings as a “true mockery”.

Their offences were judged to be conflict of interest and disloyalty to FIFA. They avoided life bans because corruption was not proven.

Platini’s lawyer, Thibaud d’Ales, told The Associated Press it came as no surprise that the corruption charge had been dropped. “They used it with the sole purpose of dirtying Michel Platini, although they knew from the start it was an untenable argument,” D’Ales said.

Guilty verdicts were expected. So were the subsequent denials of wrongdoing and promises of urgent appeals to FIFA and the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Blatter’s defiant display was a bonus for international media summoned to FIFA’s former headquarters, just hundreds of metres (yards) from the new building where he spent eight hours with four ethics judges last Thursday.

The choice of venue hinted at a vintage Blatter show. He did not disappoint. Blatter invoked Nelson Mandela within a minute, pointing to the spot where the iconic South African leader had lifted the World Cup trophy 11 years ago, when his country was chosen as the host nation for the 2010 tournament.

Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech, the Nobel organisation and the United Nations were also referenced in a spirited 52-minute performance as he held court with more than 100 journalists.

His last words were: “I’ll be back, thank you.” Blatter’s trademark fighting talk was delivered while still sporting a strip of surgical tape on his right cheek after a minor medical procedure five days earlier.

Blatter made it clear he regretted his current position, but declared he was innocent of any wrongdoing. “I am not ashamed,” he said. “I am sorry that I am a punching ball.

I am sorry for football. ... I am now suspended eight years, suspended eight years. Suspended eight years for what?”