Fifa’s appeal committee reduce duo’s ban from eight to six years but both disgraced presidents say they will take appeals to the CAS
(THE TELEGRAPH) Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini could return to football in time for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after Fifa’s appeal committee reduced their bans from eight to six years in “recognition” of their service to football.
The disgraced presidents of Fifa and Uefa respectively failed to clear their names over a £1.3 million suspected criminal payment which they were punished over in December but also avoided a renewed threat of life bans.
Both they and the investigatory chamber of Fifa’s ethics committee had appealed against last year’s rulings by the body’s adjudicatory chamber, the latter because it believed them too lenient.
The appeal committee hearings took place last week, with a decision rendered on Wednesday, two days before the Fifa congress at which Blatter’s successor is expected to be elected.
A “deeply disappointed” Blatter, who wants to oversee proceedings at the Hallenstadion, confirmed he would take his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The 79-year-old could also seek the provisional suspension of his sanction, which would allow him to attend tomorrow’s congress.
Platini mocked the reduction of his sanction, confirming he too would appeal to the CAS.
“It is an insulting decision, shameful and a denial of rights,” he said.
The investigatory chamber of Fifa’s ethics committee last night said it would analyse the opinion of the appeal committee “in detail” before deciding whether to continue to pursue life bans at the CAS.
If it decides not to, Blatter and Platini’s bans would expire in time for the 2022 World Cup, which is ironic considering the award of the tournament to the Gulf state is widely regarded as having triggered their downfall.
The investigatory chamber may come under pressure to challenge an appeal committee verdict which upheld the original guilty verdicts against both men but said in a statement: “The appeal committee considered that Mr Platini’s and Mr Blatter’s activities and the services they had rendered to Fifa, Uefa and football in general over the years should deserve appropriate recognition as a mitigating factor.”
Yesterday was a day of quasi-judicial decisions for Fifa, serving as a stark reminder of the corruption to have engulfed it since its last presidential election in May.
The CAS also rendered its verdict in the bizarre row between Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein and Fifa’s ad-hoc electoral committee over the use of transparent voting booths tomorrow, rejecting the Jordanian’s application for the ballot to be postponed.
Prince Ali also accused the Football Association of not giving presidency candidates a fair enough hearing before deciding how it would vote on Friday.
The FA chose to back Gianni Infantino after chairman Greg Dyke spoke with all five contenders but Prince Ali said he should have been given a chance to address the organisation’s board as well. “I think that should be the norm all over the world,” he added.
Prince Ali insisted he would not withdraw from an election in which he could yet play kingmaker for one of Infantino or the favourite, Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa.
A poll of the 209 member associations published yesterday found only 100 were prepared to confirm who they would vote for, with 68 coming out for Infantino, 28 for Sheikh Salman and four for Prince Ali.
Tokyo Sexwale, who got no endorsements, sidestepped questions about whether he would still be on the ballot tomorrow following a meeting with Prince Ali at Fifa’s favoured Zurich hotel.
Unlike May, the Baur au Lac escaped an FBI-led dawn raid two days before the election, casting doubt on whether United States or Swiss authorities would pounce again before the weekend.