Paris (AFP) – Michel Platini may refuse to attend a FIFA hearing to defend himself against misconduct accusations after a spokesman was quoted as saying that the Frenchman would get a long ban, his lawyer said on Saturday.
FIFA’s action against Platini and world body president Sepp Blatter took a stunning new twist when FIFA ethics committee spokesman Andreas Bantel told French sports newspaper l’Equipe that Platini “will be suspended for several years.”
Platini and Blatter are only due to attend hearings of FIFA’s ethics committee tribunal on Thursday and Friday this week. A ruling is expected in the days after.
Both are currently hit by provisional 90-day bans while an investigation into a two million Swiss franc (1.8 million euro/$2 million) payment to Platini is completed.
The suspension has halted Platini’s efforts to join the FIFA presidential campaign. He was prevented from attending Saturday’s 2016 European Championships draw.
The UEFA president’s lawyers say it may not be worth him attending the Zurich hearings this week.
“The question of Michel Platini’s presence, while not yet decided, has been raised,” Platini lawyer Thibaud d’Ales told AFP.
The lawyer said Bantel’s quotes proved that FIFA’s investigation was “a masquerade.”
“It is a political tribunal that condemns even before being judged and executes in public,” d’Ales added.
Platini is “disgusted,” the lawyer added.
The Frenchman’s lawyers have already announced that the ethics committee has recommended a life ban for their client.
Bantel was quoted as saying that Platini would be sidelined for “several years” while Blatter’s punishment would be the equivalent of a “life ban” because he is already 79.
“Suppose even the charge of corruption is not accepted by the chamber, there are many other offences such as a conflict of interest, mismanagement or falsification of accounts,” Bantel was quoted as saying by l’Equipe before its website story was altered.
Bantel told AFP that the French newspaper had published “an unauthorised interview” and his comments had been made in a personal capacity.
Platini on Friday lost an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the 90-day suspension.
It said the temporary suspension had not caused irreparable damage. It did order however that FIFA should not extend the suspension once it finishes on January 5.
FIFA’s ethics committee is divided into an investigatory arm and an adjudicatory division. Bantel is spokesman for its tribunal.
Even after a decision is released, a long round of appeals to FIFA and the CAS again are possible.
But these are unlikely to be finished in time to give Platini a chance to run in the campaign for the FIFA presidential election on February 26.
Blatter announced in June — with a corruption storm engulfing the world body — that he would stand down when the election is held.
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