21 Dec 2015

Sepp Blatter pledges to appeal against football ban

Fifa President Sepp Blatter says he will appeal against an eight-year ban from football imposed by Fifa’s ethics committee, complaining he has been treated like a “punching ball”.

Sepp Blatter (Getty)

Speaking shortly after the ban was announced, Mr Blatter, 79, told a news conference: “I will fight for me and I will fight for Fifa.”

He said he was “really sorry” he was being treated like a “punching ball” and would appeal and possibly take legal action under Swiss law.

Fifa’s ethics committee said Mr Blatter and Uefa boss Michael Platini were guilty of breaches related to a £1.3m “disloyal payment” made to Mr Platini in 2011.

The pair, who were also fined, were suspended in October while the investigation was carried out.

Mr Blatter’s 17 years at the top of world football will now end in disgrace, while Mr Platini has lost any hope of succeeding him in elections in February.

‘Without a legal basis’

Fifa’s ethics committee said it had not found evidence that the payment, made at a time when Mr Blatter was seeking re-election, constituted a bribe, but that it lacked transparency, presented a conflict of interest and was “without a legal basis”.

The committee also found that both men, who deny any wrongdoing, had abused their positions.

Messrs Blatter and Platini, 60, said that the payment was meant to honour an agreement they had struck in 1998 for work Mr Platini carried out for Mr Blatter from 1998-2002.

World Cup

The inquiry began after the Swiss attorney general’s decision to open criminal proceedings against Mr Blatter over the payment. His office is also investigating Fifa’s award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals to Russia and Qatar.

In the US, prosecutors have indicted 27 current or former football officials, including eight former Fifa executive committee members and the current heads of both the North and South American federations, over allegations that they ran bribery schemes connected to the sale of television rights for soccer competitions. Twelve people and two sports marketing companies have been convicted.

Mr Blatter had already announced that he was standing down as Fifa President.