An independent Ethics Committee has suspended FIFA President Sepp Blatter and Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) boss Michel Platini for eight years from all football-related activities.
The bans are effective immediately, the committee said.
In a statement, the international football governing body confirmed that “the proceedings against Mr. Blatter primarily related to a payment of CHF2 million (£1.34 million) transferred in February 2011 from FIFA to Mr. Platini. Mr. Blatter, in his position as president of FIFA, authorized the payment to Mr. Platini which had no legal basis in the written agreement signed between both officials on 25 August 1999.”
The two men claimed the money was payment for work that Platini carried out during his stint as a technical adviser for Blatter between 1998 and 2002. The payment, however, was not part of Platini’s written contract, but both said it was a verbal agreement, which is legal under Swiss law.
“Neither in his written statement nor in his personal hearing was Mr. Blatter able to demonstrate another legal basis for this payment. His assertion of an oral agreement was determined as not convincing and was rejected by the chamber,” FIFA said.
Aside from his suspension, Blatter has also been fined CHF50,000 (£53,944), while Platini has been fined CHF80,000 (£53,912).
Blatter’s suspension officially ends the 79-year-old’s long career as a football administrator. The Swiss FIFA boss, who has held the position since 1998, had already announced his intention to step down before the presidential election in February 2016.
Platini, on the other hand, was originally a favorite among bookmakers to succeed Blatter. The 60-year-old, arguably one of the most flamboyant and enigmatic footballers to ever grace a blade of grass, has been at the helm of UEFA since 2007. Last summer, Platini pulled out of the 2015 FIFA Presidential campaign to concentrate on his job at UEFA.
The past year has been tough not only for FIFA’s septuagenarian boss, but for the entire football world as well. The industry was thrown into a crisis in May following the dramatic arrests and indictments that include racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering. At least 14people, including FIFA VP Jeffrey Webb, were arrested in a hotel in Zurich on the eve of the congress to re-elect Blatter as president.
Seven months later, 12 more FIFA officials were arrested in the same Zurich hotel in a pre-dawn operation led by U.S. authorities. Authorities were looking to charge the senior soccer officials—current and former—with racketeering, money laundering and fraud.
The corruption crisis has already taken its toll on the world football’s governing body, with FIFA admitting to a £67 million financial loss in 2015 due to a drop in income amid the huge legal bills following the scandal.
Due to the ongoing investigations, FIFA has yet to replace its corporate partners, which include Emirates, Sony, Castrol, Continental, and Johnson & Johnson, according to The Guardian. The organization is also struggling to pay the team of American lawyers that Blatter had brought in to handle the indictments of those who were arrested in May.