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Blatter pleads case to FIFA

Soccer

Sepp Blatter was back at FIFA headquarters for what could be the last time overnight, Australian time, challenging his eight-year ban for approving a payment of 2 million Swiss francs ($A2.80 million) to Michel Platini in 2011.

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Blatter arrived 90 minutes early for the scheduled start of his hearing with the FIFA appeal committee, as punctual as he used to be when arriving for work before being barred from the building last October while under investigation.

Blatter avoided television cameras at the main gate when he left by a rear entrance after a hearing lasting seven hours.

Platini’s session with the four-man appeal panel had lasted an hour longer the previous day when he fought his own eight-year ban imposed by the FIFA ethics committee in December.

They were found guilty of offering or accepting gifts, conflicts of interest and disloyalty to FIFA.

Both men deny wrongdoing, claiming they had a verbal deal for an additional salary former France great Platini would get to work as Blatter’s adviser from 1999-2002.

FIFA would not comment on when appeal verdicts are expected, but Platini has suggested Thursday or Friday, just one week before the February 26 election when FIFA member federations are scheduled to choose the next president in a five-man contest.

Despite his ban, Blatter has said he expects to attend that election meeting in Zurich as a formal ending to his time at FIFA, which he joined in 1975.

“After 40 years, it can’t happen this way,” Blatter, FIFA’s president for more than 17 years, said in December when pledging to appeal.

Blatter and Platini previously said they expect their appeals to FIFA to fail. They have said they would then take their cases to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

-AP

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