Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini will, pending appeals, be exiled from the game of soccer for eight years, a FIFA ethics committee announced on Monday.
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Following Monday’s announcement, Blatter and Platini went on the offensive to defend their good names — yes, it was tough to type that with a straight face — and maintain their innocence. As each man fallen FIFA executive sees it, the investigations and subsequent bans against them are nothing more than a witch hunt to bring them down.
Blatter, on his eight-year ban (full media session below):
“I will fight for me and I will fight for FIFA. Suspended for eight years for what? I spoke with my lawyer this morning, who was not surprised the notification of the decision was first made to the media and later to those who should receive it. Communication in this ethics committee is an example of how you shall not do it.
“I am really sorry. I am sorry that I am still somewhere a punching ball. I am sorry that as president of FIFA I am this punching ball. I am sorry for football. I am sorry for the 400-plus FIFA team members. I’m sorry about that. I am also sorry about me and about how I am treated in this world of humanitarian qualities.
“I am not ashamed even if I am suspended. I am still the president. The committee cannot go against the president.”
Blatter went on to say, “If we had awarded the World Cup in 2022 the USA, we would not be here,” about which he is probably absolutely correct. That doesn’t make it “sour grapes” from the American authorities who have since taken down the FIFA ringleader. Remember, Sepp, you are still responsible for the 2022 World Cup having been given to Qatar. You were investigated for one series of improprieties, and in doing so were found to have been doing similar deeds for nearly two decades. You did it the crime(s), now you’ll do the time.
Platini, on his eight-year ban:
“This decision does not surprise me… It was orchestrated to tarnish myself by governing bodies that I know well and that I refuse to accord any legitimacy or credibility today. … My behavior has always been faultless and I’m at peace with my own conscience.”
“I am convinced that my fate was sealed before the hearing of December 18 and that this verdict is just a pathetic cover-up for a desire to eliminate me from the world of football.
“On the football field and in the exercise of my mandates, my behavior has always been irreproachable.”