By Tony Attwood
The latest word on Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini is that they are likely to receive suspensions of at least seven years from football related activity in the hearings happening Thursday (Blatter) and Friday (Platini).
The specific issue that will cause the ban is the £1.3m payment made to Platini by Fifa in 2011 and signed off by Blatter.
It appears that Fifa are charging the two with corruption, conflict of interest and non-cooperation but they don’t expect to get the corruption charge accepted. Corruption would lead to a lifetime ban, but even so, seven years ought to be enough to get the men out of football. The decisions may not be known until next week.
The issue relates to a 2m Swiss franc payment was made to Platini by Blatter in 2011 for work carried out between 1998 and 2002 under a verbal agreement – which in Swiss law as in English law, is perfectly legal.
But it took nine years for Blatter to ask for the cash, and he got it when Blatter was trying to become president of Fifa for the fourth time. A couple of weeks later Uefa endorsed Blatter’s candidacy.
The excuse for the delay was at the time of the “work” Fifa was short of cash.
Although we are still waiting for the big cases to happen, we should not forget that South Korea’s Fifa vice-president Chung Mong-Joon was banned for six years in October for conflict of interest and non-cooperation. Interestingly non-cooperation includes making a negative public statement about the Fifa ethics committee!
Platini’s lawyers had said in a statement: “Michel Platini … has decided not to attend his hearing at the Fifa ethics committee on 18 December 2015 as the verdict of this ethics committee has been announced in the press last weekend by one of its spokespersons, Mr Andreas Bantel, in disregard of all fundamental rights, starting with the presumption of innocence.
“By this decision Michel Platini means to express his deepest indignation with a process he regards as solely political and intended to prevent him from standing for the Fifa presidency.”
Fifa ethics committee in response promised Platini a fair trial, saying: “We would like to clearly stress that the adjudicatory chamber of the ethics committee will deal with the present case in the same way as with any other procedure independently and in an unbiased manner.”
It is more than likely that both men will then appeal to the Court of Arbitration in Sport. These tend to be quite shady affairs with only limited information then made available to the public. It was the CAS that Barcelona turned to when it sought to overthrow its year long ban from buying players after the child trafficking affair. The CAS threw out Barcelona’s appeals, despite many predictions by Barca supporters that the fact that Barca had done nothing wrong would immediately come to light.
In fact that CAS hearing was very short since Barcelona’s defence was, “We are Barcelona, our youth academy is world famous.” Quite possibly the Platini and Blatter appeals will be much the same. “Fifa is not corrupt; it just as a few corrupt individuals, but not us.”
The case is of course not the main issue that is facing Blatter, nor Fifa. Fifa officials still insist that Fifa is not corrupt, but that it has had a few corrupt people within it, as many organisations do.
Meanwhile the FA continues to support Fifa and all its doings and will play a team in the next two world cups despite serious concerns about corruption in the bidding process and human rights violations in the building of the stadia.
With the FA morally bankrupt and heading towards financial ruin (over a third of its staff have been made redundant this year) it looks as if they could be the next organisation to begin the process of unravelling.
- 18 December 2001: League match 17 of the third Double season. Arsenal’s final defeat of the season. Arsenal 1 Newcastle 3. All three defeats were at home – the other two being to Leeds and Charlton. Arsenal won 18 and drew three of the remaining games.
- 18 December 2005: Arsenal 0 Chelsea 2. Arsenal’s third consecutive defeat. In the run, Arsenal had scored nil and let in five, being beaten also by Bolton and Newcastle. 10 years on, Bolton, facing relegation to the 3rd tier announced they were insolvent and struggling to continue.