SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JULY 25:  FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter speaks during the Preliminary Draw of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia at The Konstantin Palace on July 25, 2015 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.  (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)
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Blatter says he will accept verdict as CAS appeal begins

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter arrived for his appeal hearing against a six-year ban from football on Thursday, pledging to accept the verdict of the Court of Arbitration for Sport

“I do hope it will be positive for me,” Blatter, sporting a light gray beard, told reporters at around 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) ahead of a hearing expected to last several hours.

The court’s verdict is expected within several weeks, and could be challenged in a further appeal to Switzerland’s supreme court.

The 80-year-old Blatter denies wrongdoing in authorizing a $2 million payment to former FIFA vice president Michel Platini in 2011. They claimed it was for backdated and uncontracted salary for work Platini did in advising Blatter from 1999 to 2002.

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The so-called “disloyal payment” led Blatter to be put under investigation for criminal mismanagement by Swiss federal prosecutors last September. That investigation is ongoing.

FIFA’s ethics committee judged the $2 million deal was a conflict of interest and initially banned Blatter and Platini for eight years last December. FIFA’s appeal committee cut both bans to six years.

Platini’s appeal to CAS was already judged in May, when Blatter appeared in person as a witness. Platini promised a further appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal after his ban was only cut from six to four years.

Platini arrived at the hearing around midday local time to be a witness. Both men have denied any wrongdoing.

Blatter’s comments Thursday suggest he would not pursue a federal case. Federal judges can intervene only if legal process is abused.

“We are football players, we learned to win but also we learned to lose and it will not be the end of the world,” Blatter said outside CAS.

The three-member panel for Blatter’s case is expected to respect the verdict of a separate panel which judged Platini.

A failure to overturn the ban for Blatter would likely end his hope to one day be named FIFA honorary president by its 211 member federations.

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The case already ended Platini’s chance to replace Blatter as FIFA president, and also forced him out of European governing body UEFA.

On Sept. 14, UEFA members will elect a successor to replace Platini who had a mandate through March 2019. By imposing a four-year ban, the CAS panel ensured UEFA had to replace Platini, rather than wait for him to return.

The “disloyal payment” emerged last year when Platini was strongly favored to win the election to replace Blatter, who had announced his departure plans after 17 years as president amid pressure from American and Swiss federal investigations of corruption implicating senior FIFA officials.

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Both men were questioned at FIFA headquarters last September by Swiss investigators who were waiting for them outside an executive committee meeting.

During the turmoil in world football, Platini’s right-hand man at UEFA, Gianni Infantino, submitted an election candidacy on the entry deadline day and won the vote in February.

Arriving at the hearing with his Zurich-based lawyer Lorenz Erni, Blatter said he hoped the CAS panel “will understand that the payment made to Platini was really a debt that we had against him.”

“This is a principle, if you have debts you pay them,” Blatter said.

Former FIFA president Joao Havelange dies, aged 100

13 Nov 1999:  Former FIFA President Joao Havelange watched the action during the International Friendly between Spain and Brazil played at the Estadio Balaidos in Vigo, Spain. The game finished in a 0-0 draw.   Photo by Nuno Correia.   Mandatory Credit:AllsportUK  /Allsport
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The former president of FIFA, Joao Havelange, had died at the age of 100 in Rio de Janeiro.

A long-time sports administrator, Havelange was in charge of world soccer’s governing body from 1974 until 1998 when Sepp Blatter took over.

The Brazilian resigned as FIFA’s honorary president in 2013 following bribery allegations and was also a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from 1963 until 2011 when he resigned for health reasons.

He had a huge impact in shaping the modern sporting world and the current Olympic stadium for the Rio 2016 games is named in his honor.

A former Olympian who swam for Brazil at the 1936 Olympics, plus played on their water polo team in the 1952 Olympics, Havelange was being treated for pneumonia in July.

He oversaw the rapid expansion of FIFA and the World Cup, however in 2012 a Swiss court accused Havelange and his son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira of taking $10 million in “bribery payments” from a marketing company to dish out the TV rights for the 2002 and 2006 World Cups.

7 candidates stand for 3 Asian seats on new FIFA Council

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - APRIL 27:  Gianni Infantino, FIFA President(right in the center), Chung Mong Gyu, KFA President(left in the center) take a group photo at a press conference with delegates on April 27, 2016 in Seoul, South Korea. President Gianni held meetings with FIFA Partners Hyundai Motor Group, and with the Korean Football Association ahead of next year's FIFA U-20 World Cup in South Korea.  (Photo by Woohae Cho/Getty Images)
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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) Candidates from China, Iran and Qatar are competing for new seats on FIFA’s ruling council created during anti-corruption reforms.

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The Asian Football Confederation says seven candidates passed integrity checks by FIFA to stand for election by its member federations on Sept. 27 in Goa, India.

Four men competing for two FIFA Council seats are: Zhang Jian of China; Ali Kafashian Naeni of Iran; Saoud Al Mohannadi of Qatar; Zainudin Nordin of Singapore.

Candidates for a women’s seat guaranteed to each of FIFA’s six confederations are: Moya Dodd of Australia; Mahfuza Ahkter of Bangladesh; Han Un Gyong of North Korea.

Dodd has led the promotion of women’s football as a co-opted FIFA executive committee member since 2013.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino chairs a 37-member council meeting on Oct. 13-14 in Zurich.

USMNT falls in latest FIFA world rankings

HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 21:  United States manager Jurgen Klinsmann waits in the team area prior to the start of their game against Argentina during a 2016 Copa America Centenario Semifinal match at NRG Stadium on June 21, 2016 in Houston, Texas.
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The U.S. national team rose back into the top 25 in the world for a few weeks but now they’re just outside it again.

Jurgen Klinsmann’s side slipped one spot to be joint-26th with the Netherlands in the latest batch of ranking released by FIFA on Thursday.

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Following a largely successful Copa American Centenario tournament which saw the U.S. reach the semifinal stage, Klinsmann’s side rose six places from 31st.

The updated rankings show no changes in the top 10 as Argentina still lead the way with Belgium in second. Colombia is third, reigning World Cup champs Germany is fourth and reigning Cope America champs Chile is in fifth.

Below are the top 20 teams

  1. Argentina
  2. Belgium
  3. Colombia
  4. Germany
  5. Chile
  6. Portugal
  7. France
  8. Spain
  9. Brazil
  10. Italy
  11. Wales
  12. Uruguay
  13. England
  14. Mexico
  15. Croatia
  16. Poland
  17. Ecuador
  18. Switzerland
  19. = Turkey & Hungary

26. USA

Ex-Guatemalan soccer chief pleads guilty in FIFA bribe case

PRATO, ITALY - APRIL 13: General view during the FIFA Futsal playoff match between Italy and Hungary on April 13, 2016 in Prato, Italy.  (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) A former Guatemalan soccer federation president has pleaded guilty in New York to charges related to a sprawling corruption investigation of world soccer.

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Brayan Jimenez pleaded guilty Friday to federal racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy charges, each carrying up to 20 years in prison. It’s unclear when he’ll be sentenced.

The 62-year-old Jimenez is among 40 people from around the world charged in a FIFA bribery scandal over lucrative broadcasting rights.

Prosecutors say Jimenez accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from a Florida-based sports marketing company. They say in exchange for the money Jimenez awarded the company media marketing rights to the Guatemalan soccer team’s World Cup qualifying matches in 2018 and 2022.

Jimenez’s attorneys haven’t returned a message seeking comment on his guilty plea.