ZURICH (Reuters) – European football chief Michel Platini failed on Friday in his bid to have a 90-day provisional suspension from world football lifted, further denting his hopes of running for the presidency of the game’s scandal-hit global governing body FIFA.
The decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the top body for settling sports-related disputes, means Platini will not be able to attend Saturday’s draw for the Euro 2016 Championship.
That occasion would have given him the opportunity to promote his ambition to succeed veteran leader Sepp Blatter at a vote in February.
Platini, barred for 90 days during an investigation centering on a 2 million Swiss franc ($1.97 million) payment from FIFA to Platini, cannot run for the presidency while under suspension.
FIFA is suffering the worst corruption scandal in its over 100-year history, drawing in top officials and triggering investigations by U.S. and Swiss authorities.
Platini’s legal team were confident Platini would be cleared when a FIFA ethics committee makes its final ruling on his case, which is expected to happen just before Christmas.
“Michel Platini notes with satisfaction that CAS partially granted his request when it demanded that FIFA not extend his ban,” his lawyer Thibaud d’Ales told Reuters.
“In substance, he is confident that his case is solid.”
UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino, who has declared his candidacy for the FIFA presidency, supported Platini’s “right to a due process”.
“It is complicated for Michel, for the institution, but Michel is strong, the institution in strong,” he told a news conference after a UEFA executive committee meeting in Paris.
“Patience is a virtue of the strong, we have no influence over the legal case, so we must wait for a decision.”
Asked about the CAS decision, French federation president Noel Le Graet earlier told reporters: “I am disappointed, I regret that Michel cannot be at the Euro 2016 draw tomorrow because he deserved it so much,”
“It would have been a nice symbol to have him present at the draw.”
Platini and Blatter have been suspended since Oct 8, engulfed by a deepening corruption scandal as the sport faces criminal investigations in Switzerland and the United States.
CAS ordered FIFA not to extend its 90-day provisional suspension on Platini, saying doing so would be an unjustified restriction of his access to justice.
Friday’s ruling means that Platini’s only realistic hope of re-entering the presidential race is if he is cleared by FIFA.
If the ethics committee fails to exonerate Platini and Blatter, who both say they have done nothing wrong, both men could face bans of several years if found guilty of wrongdoing.
Blatter has said there was a verbal agreement between the two while Platini says the payment was delayed several years only because of financial problems at FIFA.
FIFA’s electoral commission said in October that, in the case of the ban being lifted, it “would decide, depending on the respective exact point in time, on how to proceed with the candidacy concerned.”
Platini’s ban ends 52 days before the election for a new FIFA president.
(Reporting by John Miller and Julien Pretot, Writing by Brian Homewood; editing by Ralph Boulton and Ken Ferris)