Michel Platini will “be suspended for several years”, the spokesman of FIFA’s Ethics Committee Andreas Bantel told French sports daily L’Equipe on Friday in comments blasted by the Frenchman’s lawyers as politically motivated.
UEFA chief Platini and outgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter are both currently serving 90-day bans while an investigation is held into a two million Swiss franc (1.8 million euro/$2 million) payment from the world governing body to the French official.
“Platini will certainly be suspended for several years,” said Bantel in stunning comments carried by the L’Equipe website.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) earlier Friday backed the ban against Platini, in a new blow to his hopes of entering the FIFA presidential race.
Blatter is standing down as FIFA boss with an election due to take place to choose his successor on February 26.
“As for Blatter, there is no difference for him between a suspension of a few years and a life ban,” added Bantel.
Platini’s lawyers were furious with Bantel’s public comments, blasting the official for breaching the basic principle of being innocent until proven guilty.
“We have learned with anger and dismay the comments of Mr Andreas Bantel,” said a statement from Platini and his lawyers which was emailed to AFP.
“He….has breached the presumption of innocence and demonstrates the political objectives being pursued by FIFA’s Ethics Committee.”
Platini is due to face the ethics committee in Zurich on December 18 where he is hoping again to have his ban lifted and consequently allow him to start campaigning in his bid to succeed Blatter.
“The hearing set for December 18 will therefore manifestly be of no use,” added the lawyers’ statement.
Blatter, who has been in charge of FIFA since 1998 but who opted to step down after a series of corruption allegations rocked the organisation, is due to also face the ethics committee the day before.
“Mr. Platini, for whom the punishment seems to have already been set by the FIFA Ethics Committee even before his explanations have been heard, strongly condemns such practices that shine light on the sham procedure to which he has been subject for weeks,” concluded the statement sent to AFP.
A decision on the pair’s suspensions is due before December 21.
But Bantel insisted in his interview that “in this case, the question of corruption is well founded”.
“Suppose even the charge of corruption is not accepted by the chamber, there are many others offences such as a conflict of interest, mismanagement or falsification of accounts,” said the official.
“All of this is sufficient to suspend Blatter and Platini for several years.” – Agence France-Presse