Case opened: FIFA presses ahead with suspensions of Blatter & Platini, decision in December

IFA President Sepp Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini © Ruben Sprich
FIFA says it has opened proceedings to suspend President Sepp Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini. The decision comes after FIFA’s ethics committee called for sanctions against both men. Both Platini and Blatter say they are innocent of any wrongdoing.

Both men were handed 90-day suspensions from world football’s governing body on October 8 over a payment of 2 million Swiss francs ($1.96 million) received by Platini from FIFA in 2011 for work he had carried out almost a decade earlier, when he worked as an advisor to Blatter.

The Swiss Attorney-General's Office had said that Platini was somewhere between a witness and am accused person, when news of the payment scandal broke.

“The adjudicatory chamber has studied the reports carefully and decided to institute formal proceedings against the two officials. For reasons linked to privacy rights and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, the adjudicatory chamber will not publish details of the sanctions requested by the investigatory chamber in its final reports,” a statement from the ethics committee read, as cited by the Press Association.

“In the course of the proceedings, both parties will be invited to submit positions including any evidence with regard to the final reports of the investigatory chamber and they may request a hearing. The adjudicatory chamber intends to come to a decision in both cases during the month of December,” the statement continued.

The FIFA ethics committee says it expects to come to a decision during December.

Platini, who is also a member of FIFA’s executive committee, vigorously denies there was anything improper about the payment made to him by FIFA. The Frenchman’s plans to stand in February’s FIFA presidential elections have been stalled by the suspension and last week he announced he would present his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne.

"The CAS will determine the next steps of this procedure next week, after consultation with the parties concerned," the court said in a statement, after confirming that Platini had sent an urgent appeal against his ban.

Platini has complained that the investigation against him has been one-sided and he has not been able to plead his case. However, even if CAS rules in his favor, it still may affect his chances of standing to become the new FIFA president, if the deliberations drag on.

Blatter and Platini have had a frosty relationship over the last few years, but the current FIFA president says that the Frenchman and former legendary footballer, whom he called “an honest man,” has done nothing wrong.

"If he comes back, then he will be elected... and if he comes back, then I will come back as well,” Blatter told the Swiss broadcaster RTS, as cited by Reuters.

"There was nothing under the table... even in the FIFA rules, it's allowed to make a written or an oral contract," he added.

The 79-year-old Blatter, who has been suffering from stress-related problems as a result of the investigations against him, announced Monday that he had been “close to death” as he lay in hospital.

"I was really between the angels who sing and the devil who stokes the fire. It was the angels who sang,” he told RTS, but did not elaborate on his condition.

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