Football’s two most powerful men — Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini– have been suspended for eight years by FIFA, the sport’s world governing body.
They are the highest-profile casualties of a sprawling investigation into corruption and ethical wrongdoing at the organization.
The two were punished by the FIFA ethics committee for conflict of interest, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Blatter, the 79-year-old longtime FIFA president, effectively is excluded from any future role at FIFA. He said he will appeal against the decision.
Platini, the head of European soccer’s governing body, will also appeal, first at FIFA, and eventually at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The committee said Platini, who had been the frontrunner to succeed Blatter next year, “failed to act with complete credibility and integrity”.
The committee also fined Blatter 50,000 francs (US$50,380) and Platini 80,000 francs.
The central issue is what Swiss authorities called a “disloyal payment” of 2 million Swiss francs (US$2.02 million) from FIFA to Platini in 2011.
Platini has acknowledged receiving the payment but denies any impropriety.
He has said that the funds were his salary for advisory he work carried out at FIFA between 1998 and 2002 at the behest of Blatter—on a handshake.
After Swiss authorities announced in October that they were investigating the transaction, Blatter and Platini received provisional 90-day suspensions.
Both tried unsuccessfully to have them overturned.
FIFA has been run by interim president Issa Hayatou of Cameroon and interim secretary general Markus Kattner under the guidance of US law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.
FIFA will hold a special election to choose Blatter’s successor on Feb. 26. UEFA’s acting president, meanwhile, is Angel Maria Villar of Spain.
In a long, rambling news conference after the verdict, Blatter struck a defiant tone.
And as he walked away from the cameras, Blatter’s closing remark was, “I’ll be back.”
He refused to recognize the ethics committee’s authority to sanction the FIFA president.
“I will fight. I will fight for me and I will fight for FIFA. Suspended eight years for what?”
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