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Blatter, Platini Banned From Soccer for 8 Years

  • VOA Staff

Suspended FIFA President Sepp Blatter arrives for a news conference in Zurich, Switzerland, Monday, Dec. 21, 2015.

Suspended FIFA President Sepp Blatter arrives for a news conference in Zurich, Switzerland, Monday, Dec. 21, 2015.

Deposed FIFA President Sepp Blatter said Monday "I'll be back," shortly after the ethics committee of football's (soccer's) governing body banned him and Michel Platini, the head of the Union of European Football Association (UEFA) from the sport for eight years. "You can identify me as an optimist."

The committee took the action against Blatter and Platini over a $2 million payment Blatter made to Platini in 2011. Swiss prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into the payment.

Blatter said "I have never cheated with money," explaining he had made an oral contract with Platini for the $2 million. "I'm ashamed of the committee's excess. This committee has no right to go against the president."

FIFA judges said evidence of such a contract was "not convincing and was rejected."

Speaking in Zurich, Blatter described himself as "a man of principles." He said his two rules are "Never take money you did not earn and pay your debts."

The ban will likely derail Platini's bid to succeed Blatter when elections are held in February. Both men, who have denied any wrongdoing, are expected to appeal to the FIFA appeals committee and the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Blatter and Platini had both been provisionally banned since October because of the controversial payment.

FIFA has been embroiled in scandal after 14 FIFA officials were arrested in Zurich in May and charged in the United States with nearly 50 counts of corruption, including racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering. Swiss officials have also opened a separate criminal investigation involving FIFA's selection of Russia and Qatar to host the World Cup tournaments in 2018 and 2022 respectively.

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