FIFA’s top crook con­tin­ues to squirm

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

SEPP Blat­ter will mount his fi­nal chal­lenge against his six-year FIFA ban to­day, fol­low­ing more than a year of scan­dal that saw him thrown out of foot­ball in dis­grace. The for­mer FIFA boss has ap­pealed to the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport (CAS) seek­ing to over­turn a sus­pen­sion im­posed by world foot­ball’s gov­ern­ing body.

“I’m very con­fi­dent,” the 80-year-old Blat­ter told AFP last week, although his prospects for an out­right vic­tory would ap­pear to be re­mote.

The now in­fa­mous, end­lessly de­bated case first emerged in Septem­ber of last year, when Swiss pros­e­cu­tors said they were in­ves­ti­gat­ing Blat­ter over a sus­pect 2 mil­lion Swiss franc pay­ment (US$2 mil­lion) he au­tho­rised in 2011 to his one­time heir ap­par­ent, Michel Pla­tini.

Those rev­e­la­tions ini­tially trig­gered a pro­vi­sional sus­pen­sion by FIFA’s ethics com­mit­tee.

A full in­ves­ti­ga­tion and trial by FIFA’s in-house court found Blat­ter and Pla­tini both guilty of ethics vi­o­la­tions. They were banned from foot­ball for eight years in De­cem­ber.

A FIFA ap­peals com­mit­tee cut those penal­ties to six years in Fe­bru­ary, just be­fore Blat­ter’s suc­ces­sor and fel­low Swiss na­tional, Gianni In­fantino, was elected as FIFA’s new pres­i­dent.

Blat­ter’s hopes for re­demp­tion at CAS are likely ham­pered by Pla­tini’s failed ap­peal at the Lau­sanne-based court.

In a May rul­ing CAS judges said they were “not con­vinced” that the $2 mil­lion pay­ment was le­git­i­mate.

They did how­ever re­duce the sus­pen­sion against the for­mer French star and Euro­pean foot­ball chief from six years to four, judg­ing FIFA’s penalty “too se­vere”.

‘We’re not all liars’ Through­out the pro­tracted saga, both Blat­ter and Pla­tini have in­sisted the pay­ment was part of a le­git­i­mate oral con­tract.

Pla­tini had been hired by FIFA as a con­sul­tant from 1999 to 2002 and had ap­par­ently not re­ceived his full com­pen­sa­tion.

The two men claimed the $2 mil­lion was au­tho­rised in 2011 as an hon­est ef­fort to set­tle that ac­count.

Judges at FIFA and CAS have so far found that ar­gu­ment un­per­sua­sive.

Blat­ter has main­tained his in­no­cence as his four-decade FIFA ca­reer un­rav­elled over the last 13 months, and con­tin­ued that trend in the in­ter­view last week.

“FIFA made the con­tract with Pla­tini, and this was an oral con­tract,” he told AFP at a plush restau­rant in Zurich.

“So far in the FIFA com­mit­tees, in the ethics com­mit­tee and in the ap­peal com­mit­tee, they were say­ing: we don’t be­lieve that. But we are not all liars. So I think there is a good chance that this panel will be­lieve that there was a con­tract.”

Ar­gu­ments at CAS are ex­pected to last just one day, although a de­ci­sion may take sev­eral weeks.

The hear­ing marks the lat­est le­gal bat­tle in a se­ries of in­ter­twined scan­dals that be­gan in May of last year, when the US Jus­tice De­part­ment un­sealed a raft of cor­rup­tion in­dict­ments against top FIFA of­fi­cials.

Pros­e­cu­tors in New York have since in­dicted 40 foot­ball and sports mar­ket­ing ex­ec­u­tives over al­legedly re­ceiv­ing tens of mil­lions of bribes and kick­backs. –

Photo: AFP

For­mer FIFA pres­i­dent Sepp Blat­ter looks on as fake dol­lar notes fly around him, thrown by Bri­tish co­me­dian Si­mon Brod­kin, stage-name Lee Nel­son, dur­ing a press con­fer­ence at the FIFA world-body head­quar­ter’s in Zurich in July 2015.

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