Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and UEFA president Michel Platini have had their bans from football reduced following their appeal of the ban to the FIFA Appeals Committee.
On Wednesday, the appeals body announced that it had “partially upheld the decision made by the ethics committee” and had decided to reduce Blatter and Platini’s bans from eight to six years. It said the ethics committee had not taken certain mitigating circumstances into account before its verdict of an eight-year ban and therefore recommended reducing the sentence.
In addition, the appeals committee fined Platini CHF80,000 ($80,934) and Blatter CHF50,000.
Following Wednesday’s decision, Blatter said he was “deeply disappointed” by the decision to uphold a ban at all and said that “of course” he would appeal the decision once again, this time to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Blatter and Platini were suspended from all football-related activities by the ethics committee in December of last year. The eight-year suspension had to do with a suspicious payment that Blatter made to Platini in 2011 – nine years after Platini had finished working as an advisor to FIFA, world football's governing body.
In issuing the ban, FIFA’s ethics committee argued that “neither in his written statement nor in his personal hearing was Mr Blatter able to demonstrate another legal basis for this payment. His assertion of an oral agreement was determined as not convincing and was rejected by the chamber”.
Blatter and Platini appealed the ban to the FIFA Appeals Committee; Wednesday’s sentence reduction is the result of that appeal. For its part, the ethics committee’s investigative division had filed an appeal of its own, asking the appeals committee to consider instead a lifelong ban for Blatter and Platini.
Blatter resigned as FIFA president in June 2015 following large-scale arrests of FIFA executives by US and Swiss justice authorities. However, he remained in the wings of the organisation until bans were issued in October and December 2015.
His successor is set to be chosen at the FIFA Congress in Zurich beginning on Friday. Leading candidates for the post include Swiss Gianni Infantino, who comes from Blatter’s home canton of Valais, as well as Bahraini Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa and Jordan’s Prince Ali.
swissinfo.ch and agencies