Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
Former UEFA President Michel Platini today appealed FIFA’s decision to ban him for six years to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Specifically, Platini is appealing a 24 February decision from the FIFA Appeals Committee, which while reducing his and former FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter’s bans from eight years to six, also rejected their appeals against FIFA’s decision to ban them. He is also appealing the earlier 21 December decision of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee to ban him for eight years. ‘In appealing to the CAS, Michel Platini seeks to annul the decisions taken by the Adjudicatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee and by the FIFA Appeal Committee which lead to him being declared ineligible to take part in football-related activity at national and international level for six years’, read a CAS statement.
FIFA decided to ban Platini and Blatter over a CHF2 million (€1.8 million) payment from FIFA to Platini in 2011. On 21 October, the Investigatory Chamber confirmed that it was investigating the payment, which was in connection to consultancy work that Platini carried out for Blatter between 1998 and 2002. Platini has explained that FIFA told him it couldn’t afford to pay him at the time, and that he didn’t pursue payment until 2011.
Platini has denied any suggestion that FIFA’s settlement of the owed money had anything to do with his decision not to stand against Blatter in a 2011 FIFA Presidential election. The payment also closely followed FIFA’s decision to appoint Russia and Qatar as hosts of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups, respectively. Platini has admitted that he changed his vote to Qatar at the last minute.
FIFA ruled that Blatter and Platini had breached Article 13 (General rules of conduct), Art. 15 (Loyalty), Art. 19 (Conflict of interests) and Art. 20 (Offering and accepting gifts and other benefits) of the FIFA Code of Ethics. On 24 February, the FIFA Appeals Committee rejected an appeal from the Investigatory Chamber of the Ethics Committee to implement a life ban on both, agreeing with the Adjudicatory Chamber’s decision that the evidence available is not sufficient to establish a breach ofAarticle 21 of the FIFA Code of Ethics (Bribery and corruption).
However, it also reduced the bans applicable to both Blatter and Platini for services rendered to FIFA. ‘After carefully analysing and taking into consideration the exceptional mitigating circumstances of the cases, it was determined that a one-year reduction of the five-year ban for a breach of Art. 20 of the FCE was proper, and similarly a one-year reduction of the three-year ban for the other breaches was also proper’, read the 24 February ruling.
Platini maintains that he has done nothing wrong. He argues that his decision not to seek payment until 2011 is just coincidental. However, critics argue that his decision to seek payment at that time represented a poor choice, given the proximity of a FIFA election he was expected to contest and the controversial ‘double appointment’ of Russia and Qatar as World Cup hosts, and the allegations of bribery that followed.