FIFA upholds bans for the two former senior officials
Bans reduced from eight years to six, citing the men's contribution to world football
Decision comes two days before new FIFA president due to be elected
FIFA has denied appeals from its former president Sepp Blatter and his one-time heir apparent, former UEFA president Michel Platini, to strike down their bans from “all football-related activities.”
The two men had been banned for eight years each following the FIFA Ethics Committee’s findings that Platini had received a two-million Swiss franc ($2.02 million) “advisory payment” from Blatter.
The Committee found that they had broken FIFA Code of Ethics relating to conflicts of interest, breach of loyalty and gifts. The pair were cleared of bribery and corruption allegations.
Just ahead of its presidential vote Friday, the appeal committee did reduce both men’s bans from eight to six years, citing their service to football as justification for the reduction.
A statement posted on the global governing body’s website stated that “some strong mitigating factors for Mr .Platini and Mr. Blatter were not taken into account when establishing the sanction.”
It suggested that the “activities and the services they had rendered to FIFA, UEFA and football in general over the years should deserve appropriate recognition as a mitigating factor.”
The two former officials are also obliged to pay fines, with Platini owing FIFA 80,000 Swiss francs ($80,873) and Blatter 50,000 Swiss francs($50,541).
Platini, the former Juventus and French national team legend, said that the decision not to repeal the ban was “”insulting… shameful and a denial of rights.”
He said he would appeal through the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Blatter, who in October 2015 was forced to step down after 17 years in charge of football’s governing body, said in a statement that he was “deeply disappointed” with the verdict, which means he will be unable to preside over Friday’s election for his permanent successor at an Extraordinary Congress.
Struggling to rebuild
The reduced bans come two days before new presidential elections and as FIFA struggles to rebuild its reputation and maintain its position as the guardians of arguably the world’s most popular sport.
On Wednesday its Executive Committee urged member associations to approve a raft of proposed reforms at Friday’s congress.
Last year topped a fraught period for the organization, seeing multiple arrests and bans for officials over corruption.
Friday’s vote for a new top administrator has not regained the trust of football fans worldwide, with a Transparency International/Forza Football poll showing that seven out of ten fans have “no confidence in FIFA.”
The current candidates do not exactly represent a new broom for an organization badly in need of reform.
Among the hopefuls are Jerome Champagne, a former FIFA deputy secretary general, Gianni Infantino, Platini’s deputy at UEFA, Tokyo Sexwale, a member of the 2010 World Cup organizing committee, and Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, a former Blatter ally who has been accused of human rights abuse.s
The U.S. Justice Department is conducting an ongoing criminal probe of the organization, investigating allegations of widespread bribery, fraud and other offenses.