FIFA’s ethics committee has sensationally recommended that Michel Platini is banned for life and not for just a few years, according to reports, all but ruling him out of succeeding Sepp Blatter as president.
On Monday Hans-Joachim Eckert, the German judge who chairs the committee’s adjudicatory chamber, opened formal proceedings against both Platini and Blatter after receiving the final report of investigations into alleged financial misconduct.
It had been widely reported that Platini and Blatter risked of bans of between five and seven years but that has now been blown apart by the suggestion that Vanessa Allard, the Trinidad and Tobago lawyer who led the ethics probe into Platini, is actually pushing for a lifetime ban for the Uefa president, which would plunge him permanently into the footballing wilderness.
Platini’s fate will be decided after a hearing chaired by Eckert in December. Both he and Blatter are already
provisionally suspended for 90 days in connection with a Swiss criminal investigation against Blatter over a “disloyal payment” of 2 million Swiss francs to Platini in 2011 for work done between 1998 and 2002. Last week both had their initial appeals turned down even though they deny any misconduct.
Platini submitted his candidacy to succeed Blatter next February just before the required deadline but has not yet been cleared to stand. Any ban will rule his application invalid and his lawyer Thibaut d’Ales is reported to have confirmed that the maximum sanction has been recommended in the form of a lifetime ban for the former three-time European Footballer of the Year. D’Ales described the recommendations as “excessive” and a “scandal”.
Liberation has published the same claims amid unsubstantiated rumours that Allard herself may have confirmed the lifetime recommendation even though the ethics committee said it would not disclose details as long as the process is ongoing.
In its statement last week confirming sanctions were being sought, the committee said that “for reasons linked to privacy rights and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, the chamber will not publish details of the concluded reports and the requested sanctions against the two officials.”
It is therefore highly unlikely that Allard – who replaced chief investigator Cornel Borbely as head of the inquiry – would have spilled the beans prematurely and broken her committee’s own rules. Indeed, ethics sources have insisted to InsideWorldFootball that she has said nothing publicly and has stuck rigidly to the code, meaning any leaks or disclosures must have come from Platini’s side especially since his lawyers have now been officially informed of the recommendations.
One thing’s for sure. This latest development, if true, will all but rule Platini out of the running for the FIFA presidential election in February 2016 though he can – and almost certainly will – appeal to the Fifa appeals committee and then the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Blatter and Platini would doubtless both call for a speedy appeals procedure but it is unlikely any request to lift sanctions while the CAS conducts its own inquiry before announcing a final verdict would be agreed.