The toppling of football's most powerful and recognizable leaders may have been sealed when FIFA President Sepp Blatter agreed to pay Michel Platini (above), the head of European soccer, 2 million Swiss francs (about $2 million) in 2011. Both men told FIFA's ethics committee that Blatter was making good on a verbal promise to pay Platini the bonus, a person familiar with the case told The Associated Press. Now, just as Platini was hoping to finally succeed the 79-year-old Sepp Blatter as FIFA's maximum leader, both men have fallen further into disgrace because Platini waited nine years before demanding the payment, despite the lack of a written contract, for work he did helping Blatter cement his leadership over professional soccer.
Unimpressed by their explanations and surrounded by criminal prosecutors, the FIFA ethics committee suspended both men from world soccer for 90 days, and could ban them for years once the probe is complete, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly about the decision. Platini and Blatter strongly deny any wrongdoing. Platini is appealing to get the provisional suspension overturned so that he can run Europe's soccer federation and campaign to replace Blatter in an emergency election on Feb. 26.
But the provisional ban could derail Platini's hopes. The FIFA executive committee meets on Oct. 20, and could postpone the election date, but if the February poll goes ahead, each candidate will have to pass an "integrity check" by FIFA's election committee. Whatever the terms of Blatter's previously secret payment to Platini, FIFA investigators apparently considered it damning enough to banish both men from the game pending the full inquiry.
For now, Platini seems to retain UEFA's backing going into an emergency meeting of the executive committee and all 54 member nations on Thursday.
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