Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini have both been banned for eight years from all football activity for abusing their positions as the two most powerful men in the sport.
The bans have been imposed by FIFA’s ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert for a “disloyal payment” of 2million Swiss francs (£1.3million) made to Platini in 2011, signed off by Blatter.
Blatter has also been fined 50,000 Swiss francs (£33,700) and Platini 80,000 Swiss francs (£54,000) by the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA’s ethics committee after being found guilty of ethics code breaches.
The charges found proven included offering and accepting gifts, conflict of interest, and violating their fiduciary duty to FIFA.
A statement from the ethics committee says: “Mr Blatter’s actions did not show commitment to an ethical attitude, failing to respect all applicable laws and regulations as well as FIFA’s regulatory framework to the extent applicable to him and demonstrating an abusive execution of his position as president of FIFA, hence violating article 13 of the FCE (general rules of conduct).”
It adds: “Mr Platini failed to act with complete credibility and integrity, showing unawareness of the importance of his duties and concomitant obligations and responsibilities.
“His actions did not show commitment to an ethical attitude, failing to respect all applicable laws and regulations as well as FIFA’s regulatory framework to the extent applicable to him and demonstrating an abusive execution of his position as vice-president of FIFA and member of the FIFA executive committee.”
Outgoing FIFA president Blatter and UEFA president Platini claim the payment was made following a verbal agreement between the pair when the Frenchman worked for Blatter from 1998 to 2002.
The explanation was rejected as “not convincing” by the ethics committee, which added the evidence had not been sufficient to secure charges of corruption.
Blatter’s personal advisor Klaus Stoehlker confirmed to Press Association Sport that he will appeal against the ban and take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne. Platini is likely to follow suit – he had aimed to succeed Blatter as FIFA president in February’s election but those hopes have been effectively ended, even if he manages to overturn the ban.
There is also the threat of action from the law authorities in the USA and Switzerland. The Swiss attorney general announced in October he had opened criminal proceedings against Blatter in connection to the 2million Swiss franc payment. The attorney general also stated he had interviewed Platini as someone “between a witness and an accused person”.
Blatter, 79, arrived at FIFA’s former headquarters in Zurich ahead of a news conference – he has hired it as a private citizen, but it still houses FIFA’s marketing department. Blatter has already claimed in media interviews that the ethics committee has no power to remove him as president.