Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko believes Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini do not deserve the eight-year bans imposed upon them by FIFA’s Independent Ethics Committee.
Criminal proceedings were opened against the FIFA president in September, with an alleged “disloyal” payment to the UEFA chief for consultancy work, which Blatter authorised in 2011, forming the basis of the investigation.
The pair were handed provisional 90-day suspensions the following month but protested their innocence, claiming a verbal agreement was at the foundation of the transfer.
However, on Monday, an independent ethics committee announced eight-year bans from all football-related activities for Blatter and Platini, something which Mutko, a FIFA Executive Committee member, is sympathetic about.
“It is very difficult for me to estimate this decision. There is an investigation, case materials and an opinion, which we have not studied yet,” he told TASS news agency.
“We set up the FIFA Ethics Committee on our own and it is independent. There is a decision-making procedure and there is a procedure to file an appeal.
“I can only express my regret over the current developments. Both of the executives did a lot for the development of the world football.
“Solid reasons are required to ban from football for eight years. I believe that neither of them deserved it.
“But I reiterate that it is difficult for me personally to give estimations, as we are not familiar with the core essence of the case.”
Blatter and Platini have announced they will appeal the bans.