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FIFA warns Platini on ban appeal

Soccer

FIFA has told Michel Platini that he cannot bypass its appeals process by challenging his eight-year ban directly at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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Platini had been hoping to cut out the required FIFA appeals procedure as he races to try to overturn his ban before the February 26 presidential election.

FIFA said it wrote to Platini’s lawyers overnight to confirm that the UEFA leader can only go to CAS if the governing body’s appeals committee first rejects his request.

FIFA rules state a list of candidates must be finalised one month before the election in Zurich.

Platini was banned yesterday, Australian time, for eight years along with Sepp Blatter over a 2011 payment of 2 million Swiss francs ($A2.8 million) from FIFA that the president authorised for the former France captain.

Blatter’s appeal will focus on FIFA’s ethics judge being unable to find sufficient evidence of corruption or bribery in the case, which saw both him and Platini banned for unethical conduct.

“Blatter is eager to present his arguments to the appeal committee that the remaining charges must also fail because the evidence clearly demonstrates the relationship with Mr. Platini was in all respects appropriate,” Blatter’s legal team said in a statement.

France’s sports minister also publicly questioned the legitimacy of FIFA’s ethics committee, with the ban seriously endangering Platini’s prospects of becoming the next head of the world football body.

Patrick Kanner said he still backed Platini, and questioned whether he had been given a fair hearing by a committee he said was close to the old guard of the FIFA world soccer body.

“We know very well that FIFA’s ethics committee has been very close to the former managers, notably Sepp Blatter … who is perhaps dragging down with him the man he expected to be his successor but who was not always the man he wanted to see take his place,” Kanner told Europe 1 radio.

“I regret this because Michel Platini is in a sense being hounded. Was he able to defend himself under fair conditions? I’m not convinced.”

Platini has vowed to fight the eight-year ban in the world sports tribunal and even civil proceedings to claim damages over a decision that he has denounced as a “masquerade”.

FIFA said on Monday it “acknowledges the decisions of the independent Ethics Committee and has no further comment”. The committee operates independently of FIFA; its members are appointed by the FIFA Congress and cannot be members of any standing committees.

For Blatter, the ban brings 17 years at the helm of world soccer, already tarnished by controversies over the awarding of several World Cup tournaments and a host of corruption cases against senior soccer officials, to an end in disgrace.

For Platini, it appears to have killed his chances of being picked to replace the 79-year-old Swiss at a FIFA Congress in February.

Soccer officials in France, which will host the UEFA European finals in June, have defended Platini. On Monday the French Football Federation (FFF) maintained its support, with FFF president Noel Le Graet saying that he had been saddened and shocked by the former France midfielder’s suspension.

-AP

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