In an attempt to get ahead of the story, Michel Platini
's lawyer, Thibaud d’Alès
, said the investigatory
arm of FIFA's ethics committee has recommended a lifetime ban for his client, the suspended UEFA president, and the Guardian reported suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter should receive the same sanction
in connection with the $2 million payment made to Platini in 2011 for work done years ago.
The verbal agreement between Blatter and Platini was legal under Swiss law, though Platini,
the favorite to succeed Blatter until he ran into his own legal troubles, only had five years to enforce the contract. What clouds the payment -- made shortly before Blatter was re-elected FIFA
president in 2011 -- is that it was never accounted for on FIFA's books. The charges against Blatter and Platini are mismanagement, conflict of interest, false accounting and non-cooperation with the
D’Alès, Platini's attorney, told L'Equipe a lifetime ban was “pure scandal’’ and “disproportionate,” though other FIFA
officials have received lifetime bans, notably American Chuck Blazer
and Trinidadian Jack Warner
. On appeal, the Court
of Arbitration for Sport upheld a lifetime ban for corruption, against Sri Lankan Vernon Manilal Fernando
, a close associate of Qatari Bin Hammam
, whose bid to challenge Blatter in 2011 was derailed by his own ban on corruption charges.
The pushback from Blatter since the arrest of seven FIFA officials in
May at the the Baur au Lac Hotel in Zurich and Platini takes attention away from a more pressing issue: FIFA can't sign new sponsors, revenues are suffering and cuts will have to be made. “It is
not a forgone conclusion that the company [FIFA] will survive,” a senior person close to FIFA told the
. “It is up in the air.”
An air of unreality hangs over FIFA as lawyers work to keep the world governing body afloat. The ongoing investigations by U.S. and
Swiss investigators are expected to reveal many more cases of corruption. As the FT was told, some FIFA bosses still “think this will go away. Most of the executive committee are in denial. Only
a small group understands."
The FT noted the only thing FIFA may have going for it is the sympathy of Federal prosecutors, who are reluctant to break up FIFA like what happened to
accounting firm of Arthur Andersen in the wake of the Enron scandal. Quinn Emanuel, the U.S. law firm working with FIFA, has portrayed its client as the victim of corruption. Blatter talks a good
game, claiming FIFA is a victim of forces outside its control, but his actions suggest otherwise.
One expert told the FT that FIFA's future was dependent on maintaining "victim status,"
which means it must act like a victim. "What does a victim do? Someone who is a victim wants to find out what happened and get justice," he said. "Someone who is not really a victim looks the other
Or as Platini's lawyer has been doing, blaming the ethics committee tasked with dealing with the mess.