Blatter tries to reverse ban in FIFA appeal
FIFA’s disgraced president Sepp Blatter returned to the headquarters of world football’s governing on body on Tuesday to face an appeals committee he hopes will overturn his eight-year ban from the sport.
Blatter arrived at FIFA’s Zurich compound for his 9:00 am hearing roughly 90 minutes early, dodging the crowd of reporters that would later assemble outside, according to a FIFA security guard.
Blatter’s hearing came a day after Michel Platini, the head of European football who has also been suspended for eight years, met with the same appeals body in a bid to reverse a conviction for ethics violations issued by a FIFA tribunal in December.
Platini, also a FIFA vice president, and Blatter were found to have abused their positions over a mysterious 2 million Swiss franc ($2 million, 1.8 million euros) payment made in 2011.
Both men have argued that the funds paid by Blatter to Platini were part of a legitimate oral contract for consulting work done by Platini a decade earlier, but FIFA’s ethics judges dismissed that explanation.
The notorious 2011 payment is also part of a criminal probe by Swiss prosecutors targeting Blatter, in which Platini has been questioned in a capacity that falls between a witness and an accused person.
Platini’s arrival at FIFA on Monday was starkly different to that of Blatter’s, with the Frenchman walking the final 100 metres (330 feet) to FIFA’s gate, sporadically answering questions from reporters.
After a marathon session, Platini said he was “happy” and that his appeal was heard by “sincere” people.
One of two witnesses the ex-Juventus star presented was Frenchman Jacques Lambert, the president of the Euro-2016 organizing committee, who purportedly had evidence supporting the existence of the famous oral contract.
Lambert also returned to FIFA on Tuesday, possibly to present similar evidence of behalf of Blatter.
Platini had been the favourite to replace Blatter at FIFA’s February 26 presidential vote, but he withdrew from the race after he was banned from football.
If the appeals committee rules in his favour, the Frenchman would reclaim his post as president of European confederation UEFA.
For Blatter, a Swiss national who turns 80 next month, an appeals win could allow him to preside over next week’s FIFA congress, where his successor will be chosen.
If their appeals are rejected, both are expected to take their case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.
Platini and Blatter have been the most high-profile casualties in the unprecedented, wide-ranging scandal that has seen senior football executives suspended or fired, with 39 people indicted for corruption by the United States.
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