Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini were each banned for eight years by the FIFA ethics committee on Monday in a stunning takedown of world football’s most powerful leaders.
FIFA president Blatter and his one-time protege Platini were kicked out of the sport for conflict of interest in a two million Swiss franc (£1.35 million) payment deal that is also the subject of a criminal investigation in Switzerland.
Blatter’s FIFA career is ending in disgrace after more than 17 years as president and 40 years in total with the governing body.
Platini’s bid to succeed his former mentor in the Feb. 26 election is now likely over, though he is expected to appeal at the FIFA appeals committee and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Blatter’s spokesman has already confirmed that he will appeal to CAS.
Ethics judges ruled that Blatter broke FIFA Code of Ethics rules on conflicts of interest, breach of loyalty and offering or receiving gifts.
Both denied wrongdoing in 2011 when Platini took two million Swiss francs of FIFA money approved by Blatter as uncontracted salary for work as a presidential adviser from 1999-2002.
Blatter was fined 50,000 Swiss francs ($50,250) and Platini, a FIFA vice-president of head of European soccer’s governing body, was fined 80,000 Swiss francs ($80,400).
“Neither in his written statement nor in his personal hearing was Mr. Blatter able to demonstrate another legal basis for this payment,” the judges said. “By failing to place FIFA’s interests first and abstain from doing anything which could be contrary to FIFA’s interests, Mr. Blatter violated his fiduciary duty to FIFA.
“His [Blatter’s] assertion of an oral agreement was determined as not convincing and was rejected by the chamber.”