Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

SOCCER ; Judgment Day Dawns for Blatter, Platini in FIFA Ethics Case

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

SOCCER ; Judgment Day Dawns for Blatter, Platini in FIFA Ethics Case

Article excerpt

GENEVA - Judgment day for Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini dawns Monday when FIFA's ethics court is expected to ban the scandal- scarred soccer body's most powerful leaders. The FIFA president and his one-time intended successor face being kicked out of the world's favorite sport for at least several years over a $2 million payment Blatter approved for Platini in 2011.

Both deny wrongdoing yet a conflict of interest in managing FIFA money by agreeing the payment without telling executive committee colleagues is a likely basis for guilty verdicts in rulings due to be published at 9 a.m. GMT.

Bans of around 10 years are possible, judging by recent FIFA ethics committee sanctions in cases not involving financial misconduct.

Blatter and Platini, through his lawyers, already promised appeals that would need to be processed urgently ahead of FIFA's presidential election on Feb. 26. Both are expected to be defiant if found guilty.

Blatter has called an 11 a.m. news conference Monday at the former FIFA offices in Zurich, near the current headquarters where he spent eight hours at an ethics hearing Thursday.

Platini refused to attend his 10-hour hearing on Friday, and gave his lawyers a statement to read to the four ethics judges.

"I am already judged, I am already condemned, Platini's statement said, complaining at public comments from officials close to the ethics process since the allegation emerged three months ago.

Blatter and Platini have strong motivation to fight a ban.

Blatter, who turns 80 in March, wants a FIFA swansong by hosting the election congress in Zurich and being made honorary president by the 209 member federations.

The 60-year-old Platini wants to clear his name, pass a FIFA integrity check and be declared an official candidate in the election he was previously favored to win. His campaign stalled since being quizzed on Sept. 25 in a Swiss federal investigation of suspected criminal mismanagement at FIFA.

The case centers on Platini, as UEFA president and a FIFA vice president in 2011, getting about $2 million as uncontracted salary for working as Blatter's adviser in 1999-2002. …

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