Michel Platini will resign from the presidency of the European football governing body UEFA after failing to have his six-year ban from football quashed by the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
In a much-awaited but damning verdict, CAS lowered his sanction from six to four years on Monday but said Platini was guilty of a conflict of interest for taking a CHF2 million ($2 million) payment from world football's governing body FIFA, approved by former FIFA President Sepp Blatter in 2011. This occurred eight years after Platini had finished working as an advisor to FIFA.
The CAS said the ban corresponds to the duration of a presidential term and thus effectively removes Platini from world football by ensuring his sanction runs beyond his current UEFA mandate, which expires in March 2019.
A spokesman for Platini's Paris-based lawyers told the Associated Press that Platini would now resign. Platini, three times European Footballer of the Year, issued a defiant statement claiming a “profound injustice”.
By leaving UEFA Platini can now make an appeal to Swiss courts and "establish my integrity in this case," he said.
Payment not legitimate
The CAS said the judges’ decision was based on "the absence of any repentance and the impact that this matter has had on FIFA's reputation".
The CAS panel of judges also said on Monday it was “not convinced by the legitimacy” of the payment, which was only recognised by Platini and Blatter, and which occurred more than eight years after the end of his work relations. It was also not based on any document established at the time of the contractual relations, it added.
The CAS panel added that Platini benefitted from the extension of a pension plan “to which he was not entitled”.
It also noted that FIFA knew of the CHF2 million payment in 2011 but only initiated an investigation into Platini’s behaviour with the FIFA Ethics Committee in September 2015.
Blatter verdict awaits
Blatter and Platini were suspended from all football-related activities by the FIFA ethics committee in December 2015. Platini appealed to CAS after the FIFA Appeals Committee decided in February 2016 to reduce Blatter and Platini’s bans from world football from eight to six years as a reward for their long service to the sport.
Blatter resigned as FIFA president in June 2015 following large-scale arrests of FIFA executives by US and Swiss justice authorities. However, he remained on the fringes of the organisation until bans were issued in October and December 2015.
Blatter is awaiting a CAS hearing to challenge his six-year ban.
Another FIFA official extradited
Also on Monday, the Swiss Federal Court rejected the appeal of former Nicaraguan football official Julio Rocha to be sent back to his home country. This clears the way for him to be extradited to the United States.
Rocha is one of seven FIFA officials arrested a year ago in Zurich, and he is suspected of taking bribes to sell the marketing rights to World Cup qualifying matches.
swissinfo.ch with agencies