Fifa bans Blat­ter and Pla­tini for eight years

Lesotho Times - - News -

foot­ball, but the re­ac­tion has to be bet­ter. We lost our minds af­ter the goal.

“I would say hope­fully it’s the most dis­ap­point­ing mo­ment in my whole Liverpool FC life.”

Liverpool looked a soft touch with­out pow­er­ful Bel­gian striker Chris­tian Ben­teke, who Klopp dropped to re­call Roberto Firmino.

Ben­teke has been linked with a Jan­uary move to Chelsea, but Klopp in­sisted there was no chance

ZURICH — Fac­ing crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion and banned from VIP tri­bunes, Sepp Blat­ter cuts an in­creas­ingly lonely fig­ure far from the foot­ball pres­i­dent who mixed with political heavy­weights and ty­coons.

When the 79-year-old Swiss power­bro­ker told a stunned Fifa congress this year that of­fi­cials found guilty of mis­con­duct would be booted out of world foot­ball, he would not have been think­ing of him­self.

But an eight-year ban from all foot­ball ac­tiv­ity over a sus­pect $2 mil­lion pay­ment to his for­mer ally Michel Pla­tini has left Blat­ter des­per­ately bat­tling to pre­serve his re­main­ing claim to le­git­i­macy as the man who brought un­told riches to foot­ball.

Unashamedly di­vi­sive — some called him a “Je­sus” and oth­ers a rogue — and supremely con­fi­dent of his own abil­ity, Blat­ter was for nearly two decades a global force as con­troller of the world’s most watched sport­ing event, the World Cup.

He re­peat­edly saw off all-com­ers af­ter tak­ing over as Fifa pres­i­dent from the scan­dal­tainted Joao Have­lange in 1998.

A use­ful am­a­teur foot­baller who turned his hand to mar­ket­ing, Blat­ter wheeled, dealed and shrugged off al­le­ga­tions of chi­canery un­til Swiss po­lice marched into a Zurich ho­tel in May and ar­rested seven Fifa of­fi­cials.

It was two days be­fore a congress at which he was aim­ing to se­cure a tri­umphant fifth term.

“Let me be clear: such mis­con­duct has no place in foot­ball and we will en­sure that those who en­gage in it are put out of the game,” Blat­ter said the day af­ter the stun­ning ar­rests car­ried out un­der US ar­rest war­rants.

Blat­ter got his fifth term but with pres­sure mount­ing, an­nounced four days later that he would stand down, with a new elec­tion later set for Fe­bru­ary 26.

Some still did not be­lieve that he would give up. But a Swiss in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Fifa ac­counts and the “dis­loyal pay­ment” of two mil­lion Swiss francs to Fifa vice-pres­i­dent Pla­tini fi­nally ended the Blat­ter reign. Both the for­mer As­ton Villa star would be sold just six months af­ter mov­ing to An­field.

“That is the next prob­lem. If you lose the games ev­ery­one is al­lowed to ask why didn’t you play this or that player,” he said.

“If it is the same prob­a­bil­ity as all the other trans­fer ru­mours I’ve read since I’ve been here then I’d say I’m pretty cool.”

Mean­while, the mood in the Manch­ester United dress­ing room un- were tem­po­rar­ily sus­pended in Oc­to­ber be­fore they were fi­nally ban­ished on Mon­day.

Blat­ter has said many times he be­lieves there is an in­ter­na­tional plot to oust him and that jeal­ous ri­vals do not use the no­tion of fair play in their back­room bat­tles with him.

“In my 40 years at Fifa I have learned to live with hos­til­ity and re­sent­ment,” he said in one com­men­tary this year. “How­ever, as the Ger­man lan­guage proverb puts it: sym­pa­thy is free, but envy must be earned.”

And ri­vals had a lot to be jeal­ous of. Be­ing der man­ager Louis van Gaal is not as bad as it was dur­ing the “glum” days of David Moyes’ ten­ure, de­fender Phil Jones has said af­ter Satur­day’s 2-1 Premier League loss to Nor­wich City.

A six-game win­less streak in all com­pe­ti­tions saw United bow out of the Cham­pi­ons League in the group stages and out of the top-four in the Premier League, nine points be­hind sur­prise lead­ers Le­ices­ter City af­ter 17 games. head of Fifa for 17 years el­e­vated Blat­ter to 70th place in the Forbes list of the world’s most pow­er­ful peo­ple.

The for­mer am­a­teur foot­baller — an old fash­ioned striker — joined Fifa in 1975 from a post mar­ket­ing Swiss watches.

Blat­ter, who also worked as a pub­lic re­la­tions of­fi­cial for a Swiss tourism depart­ment and as gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Swiss ice hockey fed­er­a­tion, claims credit for build­ing up much of Fifa’s fi­nan­cial mus­cle.

When he joined Fifa it was in a small Zu-

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