FIFA has dismissed appeals from Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini against their suspensions from football-related activities but reduced the length of the duo’s bans from eight to six years.
FIFA president Blatter and his UEFA cou
nterpart Platini were suspended in December when the adjudicatory chamber of the Ethics Committee ruled a payment of two million Swiss francs (£1.3million) authorised by the 79-year-old Swiss to the former France captain constituted multiple infringements of the FIFA Code of Ethics (FCE).
Both men have continued to protest their innocence, but the FIFA Appeal Committee upheld the Ethics Committee’s findings that they breached FCE articles relating to offering and accepting gifts and other benefits; conflicts of interests; loyalty; and general rules of conduct.
However, the Appeal Committee ruled that “strong mitigating factors” were not taken into account when deciding the severity of the punishment, namely Blatter and Platini’s long history of service in football administration.
The news comes two days before an election will be held at the FIFA Extraordinary Congress in Zurich to determine Blatter’s replacement.
A statement from the Appeal Committee read: “While agreeing with the principles and arguments presented by the adjudicatory chamber in its calculation of the sanction, the Appeal Committee determined that some strong mitigating factors for Mr Platini and Mr Blatter were not taken into account when establishing the sanction.
“In this sense, amongst others, the Appeal Committee considered that Mr Platini’s and Mr Blatter’s activities and the services they had rendered to FIFA, UEFA and football in general over the years should deserve appropriate recognition as a mitigating factor.”
Blatter and Platini have each received a one-year reduction on their five-year punishment for breaching FCE article 20 – offering and accepting gifts and other benefits – while their combined three-years for other infringements is cut to two.
Respective fines of 50,000 and 80,000 Swiss Francs for Blatter and Platini remain.
The Appeal Committee also announced the Investigatory Chamber of the Ethics Committee had been unsuccessful in attempts to land Blatter and Platini with life bans, due to them not breaking FCE bribery and corruption rules.
“The Appeal Committee concurred with the findings of the adjudicatory chamber of the Ethics Committee in the sense that the evidence available in the present case is not sufficient to establish a breach of article 21 of the FIFA Code of Ethics (Bribery and corruption),” the statement read.
“Consequently, the appeal lodged by the investigatory chamber for a life ban from all football-related activity was also dismissed.”