Blatter FIFA ban remains as the former president loses appeal

first_imgBy Brian HomewoodLAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) – Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter has lost his appeal against a six-year ban for ethics violations, imposed amid the biggest corruption scandal to shake the world soccer body, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said yesterday.CAS ruled that Blatter had authorised payments to former European football boss Michel Platini worth over $2 million (£1.57 million) that amounted to “undue gifts” and therefore violated FIFA’s code of ethics.Blatter led FIFA for 17 years, resigning in June last year after several dozen football officials, including FIFA executive committee members and former members, had been indicted in the United States on graft charges, along with two sports marketing firms.The 80-year-old Swiss was not among those indicted, but became embroiled in scandal when he was banned from all football-related activity the following December by FIFA’s Ethics Committee along with Platini, then president of the European soccer body UEFA.The men were banned, initially for eight years, over a payment of 2 million Swiss francs ($1.98 million) that FIFA made to Platini in 2011, with Blatter’s approval, for work done a decade earlier.The bans were reduced to six years by FIFA’s appeals committee in February.Both men denied wrongdoing and Blatter said the payment related to a verbal agreement between them.CAS said in a statement that its three-man panel had determined that Blatter “breached the FIFA code of ethics since the payment amounted to an undue gift as it had no contractual basis”.“The Panel further found that Mr Blatter unlawfully awarded contributions to Mr Platini under the FIFA Executive Committee retirement scheme which also amounted to an undue gifts,” said CAS.CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONSwiss prosecutors have also begun investigating Blatter on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and misappropriation of funds over the payment, which they describe as “disloyal”, though he has not been charged.And in September, FIFA’s Ethics Committee said it was investigating Blatter and two other former leading FIFA officials over the salaries and bonuses they had received while in office.At the same time, Swiss authorities are investigating whether bribes were paid on Blatter’s watch to help Russia and Qatar secure the right to host FIFA’s showpiece event, the four-yearly World Cup, awarded by the FIFA Executive Committee.Blatter, who must also pay a fine of 50 000 Swiss francs, said in a statement that he was not surprised by the CAS ruling.“The way the case progressed, no other verdict could be expected,” he said.“What I find incomprehensible is that the existence of the oral agreement between FIFA and Michel Platini is still steadfastly negated, in spite of my testimony to the contrary.”“I have experienced much in my 41 years in FIFA,” said Blatter, who joined FIFA as a development officer in 1975 and was initially stationed in Ethiopia.“I mostly learnt that you can win in sport, but you can also lose. In this sense, I have to accept this decision, although it is difficult to follow it.”CAS cut Platini’s ban to four years in May but said that Blatter had not requested a reduction.“Mr Blatter requested the annulment of the ban but did not request a reduced penalty,” it said. “In any event, the panel determined that the sanction imposed was not disproportionate.”last_img