Michel Platini, the president of UEFA, Europe’s governing soccer body, has also been barred for the same period. Both had previously been suspended while an independent ethics committee run by FIFA investigated a payment of about $2 million that Blatter allegedly made to Platini in exchange for his support in a FIFA election.
Both Blatter and Platini denied that this was true—Blatter said it may have been the result of an “administrative error” and that the payment was the result of a “gentlemen’s agreement” to cover an issue with Platini’s salary. On Monday, the ethics committee rejected this defense, in large part because the oral agreement was shady and, for Blatter at least, a bit sloppy. As Deadspin’s Barry Petschesky notes, “It feels almost like Al Capone and tax evasion: after a career filled with dirty stuff, they finally nail Blatter on one lonesome little grift.”
Blatter had hoped to preside over a special congress FIFA is holding in February, which will determine who his successor will be. Platini had been the favorite. Normally, one would expect him to bow out, given the circumstances, but this is FIFA.
A criminal probe involving both men—and bigger issues, like bribery and selling undervalued TV rights—is ongoing, but on Monday morning Blatter said he isn’t going anywhere.
“I will fight,” he said. “I’m really sorry. I’m sorry that I am still somewhere a punching ball. As president of FIFA, I’m still this punching ball. I’m sorry for FIFA. I’m sorry for football. I’m also sorry about me. How I am treated in this world. ... I’ll be back.”