FIFA President Sepp Blatter and European soccer boss Michel Platini were both banned from soccer for eight years Monday for ethics violations, leaving the global game leaderless as it struggles with a swirl of corruption cases.
The pair, who were also fined, had been suspended in October while an investigation was carried out into a 2 million Swiss franc ($2.02 million) payment that soccer’s global governing body made to Platini in 2011, with Blatter’s approval.
The decision 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 in a presidential election in February.
The Swiss, who spent four decades at FIFA, came out swinging, holding a news conference to tell reporters that he was sorry only that the president of FIFA was being treated as a “punching ball”.
“I will fight for me and I will fight for FIFA,” said Blatter, unshaven and with a sticking plaster on his cheek, but defiant.
He said FIFA’s Ethics Committee had no right to relieve him of his duties and that he would challenge the decision in FIFA’s Appeals Committee and, if necessary, the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, and in the Swiss courts.
The committee said it had not found evidence that the payment, made at a time when Blatter was seeking re-election, constituted a bribe, which meant the men were spared potential lifetime bans.