PARIS (Reuters) – FIFA’s Ethics Committee have subjected European football chief Michel Platini to a “sham procedure”, the Frenchman’s legal team said on Friday after he lost an appeal to have a provisional 90-day ban overturned.
Reacting to comments in French newspaper L’Equipe by Ethics Committee spokesman Andreas Bantel, a statement from Platini’s representatives said the remarks “constituted a patent violation of the presumption of innocence”.
“They demonstrate also that the Ethics Committee is pursuing a political objective for whom contradictory arguments and the hearing that it fixed itself for 18 December will manifestly serve no purpose,” added the statement.
“Mr Platini, for whom the sanction already seems to have been fixed (decided) by the FIFA Ethics Committee before his explanations have been heard, strongly denounces these practices which showcase the sham procedure of which he has been the object for weeks.”
The committee provisionally suspended Platini and outgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter from the sport on Oct. 8, pending a full investigation into their conduct.
However, Bantel’s comments suggest the UEFA president’s hopes of being exonerated and therefore still being able to run for the top FIFA job in the Feb. 26 election are non-existent.
“In this case the question of corruption is well founded,” said Bantel.
“And in supposing the corruption argument is not accepted by (the) Judicial Chamber, many other questions have been raised about possible violations of the criminal code, such as conflict of interest, disloyal management and falsification of accounts.
“All this naturally suffices for the suspension of Blatter and Platini for several years. Platini certainly will be suspended for several years,” added Bantel.
“As for Blatter, now aged 79, there’s no difference for him between several years (suspension) and banishment for life.”
Platini, head of UEFA since 2002, was the favourite to replace Blatter but has become mired in the biggest scandal to hit FIFA.
The former France midfielder was barred for 90 days during an investigation centred on a two million Swiss francs ($1.97 million) payment from FIFA to Platini.
He suffered another blow on Friday when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) turned down his appeal against the provisional ban, although the organisation ordered FIFA not to extend it.
Even a temporary lifting of the ban, that ends 52 days before the FIFA election, would have allowed Platini to attend Saturday’s draw in Paris for the 2016 European Championship.
That showpiece occasion would have given him the opportunity to promote his ambitions.
A final decision by the Ethics Committee is expected by the end of this month.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Tony Jimenez)