Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini have each been banned from football for eight years by FIFA’s ethics committee in a stunning removal of the world game’s most powerful leaders.
Blatter was also fined 50,000 Swiss francs ($A70,085) while Platini was fined 80,000 francs ($A112,145).
The FIFA president and his one-time protege were kicked out of the sport for conflict of interest and disloyalty to FIFA in a $2 million ($2.79 million) payment deal that is also the subject of a criminal investigation in Switzerland.
The case centred on Platini, as UEFA president and a FIFA vice president in 2011, receiving the money as uncontracted salary for working as Blatter’s adviser in 1999-2002.
The adjudicatory chamber of the ethics committee, chaired by Mr Hans-Joachim Eckert announced the bans on Monday night (AEDT).
The decision, which comes as a corruption scandal swirls around FIFA, means that Blatter’s 17 years at the helm of world soccer will end in disgrace, and spells the end of Platini’s hopes of replacing the 79-year-old Swiss in a presidential election in February.
The bans come into force immediately and apply to all football-related activities – administrative, sports or other – on a national and international level.
“Blatter’s actions did not show commitment to an ethical attitude, failing to respect all applicable laws and regulations,” the ethics committee said in a statement.
“Platini failed to act with complete credibility and integrity, showing unawareness of the importance of his duties and concomitant obligations and responsibilities.
“His actions did not show commitment to an ethical attitude.”
In the United States, prosecutors have indicted 27 current or former soccer officials, including eight former FIFA executive committee members, over allegations that they ran bribery schemes connected to the sale of television rights for soccer competitions. Twelve people and two sports marketing companies have been convicted.
Blatter arrives for his news conference, tackled from behind by car door in the crush pic.twitter.com/Y6SmCe2sxK
— Graham Dunbar (@gdunbarap) December 21, 2015
Blatter, Platini vow to fight ruling
Both men confirmed they would appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against the ruling.
Blatter gave a press conference an hour after the announcement, vowing to fight his ban, claiming he had a gentleman’s agreement with Platini.
“I will fight. I will fight for me and I will fight for FIFA. Suspended for eight years for what?” he said.
“You can identify me as an optimist.
“Together with a Swiss lawyer, we thought we had convinced the panel of the tribunal about this situation which was created about the payment, by FIFA, for an ongoing contract which was never terminated.
“That we would be in a situation now that was clear, and a clean sheet of a situation.
“We are in a gentleman’s agreement, which was made in ’98 just after the World Cup in France and Mr Platini approached me and said he would like to work in FIFA.
“What astonished me now if I’m going to this decision, is that they deny the existence of such an agreement.”
His last words on leaving the conference were: “I’ll be back.”
Platini refused to attend his 10-hour hearing on Friday, and gave his lawyers a statement to read to the four ethics judges.
“I am already judged, I am already condemned,” Platini’s statement said, complaining at reported comments from officials close to the ethics process since the allegation emerged three months ago.
Blatter said he would seek several means of appeal, including the Swiss justice system.
“So therefore with my lawyer, I will use the sporting justice now to go forward. We go immediately once again to the appeal committee, to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, we go also to the Swiss,” he said.
“Under Swiss law to be suspended for eight years you have to have committed something very very important. The only thing they should have done is to say: ‘Yes if this arrangement existed, you should have put it somewhere in the books.’
“I agree to that. But this is administrative and financial proceeding. It is nothing to do with ethics.”
‘Conflict of interests’ brings kingpins down
Switzerland’s attorney general has opened criminal proceedings against Blatter for the suspected “disloyal payment” of FIFA money to Platini and selling undervalued World Cup TV rights for the Caribbean.
Platini’s status in the criminal case is “between a witness and an accused person,” attorney general Michael Lauber said in October.
In media interviews, Platini and Blatter said the former France captain asked for a salary of 1 million Swiss francs ($1.141 million). He had a contract for 300,000 Swiss francs ($422,000), in line with FIFA’s then-wage structure, plus a “gentleman’s agreement” to get the rest later.
Swiss law obliged FIFA only to pay the deferred money within five years.
Platini was paid in February 2011, just before Blatter began campaigning for re-election against Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar. Platini’s UEFA urged its members weeks before the June 2011 poll to back Blatter, who was elected unopposed when Bin Hammam was implicated in bribery.
Few FIFA officials knew of the Platini payment which was revealed in a wider Swiss probe of the governing body’s business affairs, including suspected money laundering in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests.
-AAP, with agencies