Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini given eight-year bans by FIFA
Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini were each banned for eight years by FIFA's ethics committee on Monday in a stunning takedown of world football's most powerful leaders.
FIFA president Blatter and Platini, his onetime protégé, were kicked out of the sport for conflict of interest in a 2 million Swiss franc (£1.35 million) payment deal that is also the subject of a criminal investigation in Switzerland. The bans are effective immediately.
Blatter's FIFA career looks set to end in disgrace after more than 17 years as president and 40 years in total with the governing body.
Platini's bid to succeed his former mentor in the Feb. 26 election is now likely over, although he is expected to appeal at the FIFA appeals committee and the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
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Blatter held a news conference shortly after the decision was announced in which he said he would appeal with FIFA, CAS and the Swiss authorities and described himself as a "punching ball."
Ethics judges ruled that Blatter broke FIFA Code of Ethics rules on conflicts of interest, breach of loyalty and offering or receiving gifts.
Both denied wrongdoing in 2011, when Platini took 2 million Swiss francs of FIFA money approved by Blatter as uncontracted salary for work as a presidential adviser from 1999 to 2002.
Blatter was also fined 50,000 Swiss francs ($50,250), and Platini, a FIFA vice president and head of European soccer's governing body, was fined 80,000 Swiss francs ($80,400).
"Neither in his written statement nor in his personal hearing was Mr. Blatter able to demonstrate another legal basis for this payment," the judges said. "By failing to place FIFA's interests first and abstain from doing anything which could be contrary to FIFA's interests, Mr. Blatter violated his fiduciary duty to FIFA.
"His [Blatter's] assertion of an oral agreement was determined as not convincing and was rejected by the chamber."
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Platini, the judges said, "failed to act with complete credibility and integrity, showing unawareness of the importance of his duties and concomitant obligations and responsibilities."
The full FIFA statement can be read here.