The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Monday dismissed the appeal of former FIFA president Joseph Blatter against a six-year ban from football.
Blatter, 80, was banned last year by the FIFA ethics committee over a “disloyal payment” of 2 million Swiss francs (2.07 million dollars) to former European football chief Michel Platini for FIFA work done a decade earlier.
The FIFA appeals committee later reduced the eight-year suspension to six years, but Blatter protested his innocence and appealed the sanction at CAS although there was only an oral agreement about the payment.
But the CAS panel said Monday he “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 gift.
“The Panel determined that the sanction imposed was not disproportionate and therefore confirmed the Appealed Decision in full.”
Blatter acknowledged defeat in a statement but continued to insist he had done nothing wrong.
“I take note of the verdict of the Court of Arbitration for Sport. 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 and the testimony given by other witnesses. A UEFA protocol mentioning the agreement is also disregarded,” he said Monday.
“I have experienced much in my 41 years in FIFA. I mostly learned 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, because the principle of jurisdiction – culpability has to be proven by prosecution – was not applied.
Blatter headed football’s governing body between 1998 until his suspension over the case in October 2015, with Gianni Infantino eventually elected new FIFA president in February 2016.
He said in June 2015 he would step down, four days after originally being reelected for a fifth term but amid grave corruption allegations against senior football officials and several arrests in connection with probes in the United States and Switzerland.
Platini also took his case to CAS, which in May reduced his ban from six to four years. The case ended his ambition to become FIFA president and he stepped down as UEFA boss after the CAS ruling.
The payment to Platini is also subject of an ongoing criminal investigation in Switzerland, upon which FIFA acted with the ban, and the US corruption probe could possibly also target him.
In addition, FIFA is conducting another ethics probe against Blatter, as well as former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke and ex-FIFA finance director Markus Kattner, on suspicion that they made a joint effort to enrich themselves.
The CAS ruling ends for good his four decades within FIFA where he started in 1975 as as technical director before being secretary general 1981 until his 1998 election as president.
“Nevertheless I look back with gratitude to all the years, in which I was able to realise my ideals for football and serve FIFA,” he said.(DPA)
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