FIFA court hears Platini case
Zurich : A FIFA ethics court today heard corruption accusations against world body vice president Michel Platini who boycotted the hearing.
The French football legend’s lawyers pleaded Platini’s case before the FIFA investigatory chamber.
Suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter argued before the judges on Thursday that there was no proof that a two million Swiss franc(USD 2 million/1.8 million euros) payment made to Platini in 2011 without a contract was illegal.
Blatter spent more than eight hours being questioned. Blatter and Platini are both already the subjects of 90 day suspensions. Both men face the risk of a life ban over the case.
The verdict is to be given on Monday, according to sources close to FIFA.
Platini has said the verdict was decided in advance and has refused to attend, leaving his legal team to fight his corner.
FIFA’s ethics judges have however insisted that all evidence will be judged fairly.
Platini’s lawyer, Thibaud d’Ales, arrived at FIFA headquarters by taxi without making a comment.
The 60-year-old Platini has rejected any notion of corruption, claiming the suspect payment was part of an oral contract for work he did as an advisor.
Before his own hearing, Blatter strongly attacked the FIFA court, but still appeared in his own defence, accompanied by his Zurich-based lawyer Lorenz Erni.
After the hearing Blatter’s Virginia-based lawyer Richard Cullen issued a statement calling for an acquittal.
“President Blatter looks forward to a decision in his favor, because the evidence requires it,” Cullen said in an email sent to AFP.
“President Blatter behaved properly and certainly did not violate FIFA’s Code of Ethics. This investigation should be closed and the suspension lifted,” Cullen added.
If found guilty, Blatter and Platini can go to FIFA’s appeal committee and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
As Blatter exited FIFA’s headquarters on Thursday his temporary replacement warned that the unprecedented storm surrounding the organisation may not be over.
Acting FIFA president Issa Hayatou and acting secretary general Markus Kattner issued an open letter which noted that “there may be further challenges ahead.”
And in a sign of the seemingly ever widening corruption probe within global football, Switzerland said that it had carried out a US request to freeze about 50 accounts in Swiss banks.
A Swiss justice ministry spokesman Folco Galli said “funds in the high tens of millions are blocked.”
It was the wave of US justice department indictments announced in May that unleashed the scandal which has since rocked FIFA.
Dozens of people are facing charges in US courts, but Blatter and Platini are not among that group.
Their possible long-term suspensions from FIFA would however mark the highest profile casualties of the scandal.
Before his suspension, Blatter had agreed to step down when his replacement was chosen in a February vote and Platini had been the favourite to succeed him.
But the Frenchman’s campaign has been stalled by ethics inquiry.
Separately, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, whose country will host the 2018 World Cup, said Blatter should be a Nobel Peace laureate.
“That is someone who should be given the Nobel Peace Prize,” Putin said while Blatter faced questioning aappears before FIFA courtFA. “His contribution to the global humanitarian sphere is colossal.”