World football governing body Fifa’s ethics watchdog wants Uefa president Michel Platini banned for life over a suspect payment, the former French legend’s lawyer said on Tuesday.
Platini, until recently the favourite to succeed suspended Fifa president Sepp Blatter, and Blatter himself will find out in the next month whether a Fifa court has found them guilty of ethics breaches. “The investigatory chamber of Fifa’s ethics committee has asked for Michel Platini to be banned for life. It is in the report sent to us,” the Frenchman’s lawyer, Thibaud d’Ales, told AFP.
He called the proposed punishment a “scandal” and “excessive”.
Blatter’s lawyers did not answer questions about whether the same punishment had been requested against the 79-year-old veteran sports baron. His personal spokesman, Klaus Stoehlker, said Blatter did not know what punishment had been requested.
Platini and Blatter are already serving 90-day suspensions while an investigation is held into a $2 million (1.8 million euros) sum Platini received from Fifa in 2011. That has ruled the 60-year-old Frenchman out of the race for the Fifa presidency to be decided in the election on February 26.
Blatter is under investigation in Switzerland for ‘criminal mismanagement’ over the payment to Platini, ostensibly for consultancy work completed nine years earlier.
Platini has been named in the investigation but is not yet a formal suspect.
Platini wants to clear name
Both men have denied any wrongdoing but admit there was no contract for the work or payment. The investigation, alongside a US bribery inquiry and a Swiss probe into the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, has plunged Fifa into its worst crisis.
The charges have seen Platini fall behind five other candidates who have already passed Fifa integrity tests in the race for the presidency. “Platini is now thinking more about clearing his name than the Fifa presidency,” a member of his entourage said.
If banned, the 60-year-old French football legend would also be forced out as head of the European football Union Uefa, which he has led since 2007.
The five other candidates, meanwhile, are already lobbying for the presidency: Asian football chief Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, former Fifa vice president Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan, former Fifa official Jerome Champagne of France, South African businessman and former minister Tokyo Sexwale and Uefa general secretary Gianni Infantino.
Platini’s lawyer said the demand for a life ban was part of a concerted effort to stop his client taking part in the race.
“This ban is subject to the proof of corruption, but the punishment is clearly excessive,” D’Ales said. “It’s not based on anything in the case.”
He said he had decided to acknowledge the life ban demand after it was leaked to French media. “It’s a pure scandal, and by making it public there’s clearly an intention to cause harm,” said d’Ales.
“The electoral timetable is being manipulated and there is a strategy to get rid of Platini as a candidate.”
Fifa’s investigative committee declined to say what sanction had been requested and that it was up to Platini and Blatter’s legal teams whether to give details.
The investigatory chamber announced on Monday that it has opened proceedings against Blatter and Platini. The body, led by German judge Hans Joachim Eckert, hopes to announce a decision in December.
Appeals by Blatter and Platini against their 90-day suspensions were rejected last week, and Platini has taken his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, with a decision expected soon.
They could also appeal against any ban to a Fifa committee and then to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).