FIFA president Sepp Blatter and UEFA president Michel Platini have been barred from the sport for eight years, over a 2011 payment of about £1.3 million that the FIFA ethics committee said was in exchange for Platini’s support of Blatter in an upcoming election. It feels almost like Al Capone and tax evasion: after a career filled with dirty stuff, they finally nail Blatter on one lonesome little grift.
Both men maintained that the payment was for some sort of services rendered more than a decade earlier.
“There might have been an administrative error,” Blatter said, “but this was nothing to do with the ethics. This cannot be proven. If it cannot be proven, then it cannot be guilty.”
Platini has not attended any of the ethic committee’s hearings, instead charging the investigation to be politically motivated and invalid. That will likely form the meat of his appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Blatter, too, said today he intends to appeal his ban.
At a press conference in Zurich today after the ban was announced, Blatter railed against the ruling, alternately comparing the investigation to the Spanish Inquisition and himself to Nelson Mandela.
“I will fight,” he added. “I will fight for me and I will fight for Fifa. Suspended for what? I spoke with my lawyer this morning and we were not surprised that the notification was made first to the media. This committee has no right to go against the president of Fifa. The president can only be removed by the congress. Even suspended, I am still the president. I regret, but I am not ashamed.
“I’m really sorry. I’m sorry that I am still somewhere a punching ball. As president of Fifa, I’m still this punching ball. I’m sorry for Fifa. I’m sorry for football. I’m also sorry about me. How I am treated in this world.”