Platini lawyers hopeful after FIFA ethics hearing


A FIFA ethics court on Friday spent nine hours listening to corruption accusations against the world governing body’s vice president Michel Platini, who boycotted the hearing.

The French football legend’s lawyers pleaded Platini’s case before the FIFA investigatory chamber and later reiterated that he “is innocent”.

“Mr Platini is innocent. That is what we have evidenced to the commission today through witness testimony and a number of other evidences,” Platini’s lawyer Thibaud d’Ales told reporters gathered outside FIFA headquarters in Zurich.

“Now we are hoping that the ethics commission will render the law.”

A verdict is to be given on Monday, according to sources close to FIFA.

Suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter will also learn his fate on Monday after arguing before the judges on Thursday that there was no proof that a two million Swiss franc ($2 million/1.8 million euros) payment made to Platini in 2011 without a contract was illegal.

Blatter spent more than eight hours being questioned.

Blatter and Platini are both already the subjects of 90 day suspensions but both men face the risk of a life ban over the case.

Platini has said the verdict was decided in advance and refused to attend the hearing in Switzerland, leaving his legal team to fight his corner.

FIFA’s ethics judges have however insisted that all evidence will be judged fairly.

The UEFA president’s representatives arrived early on Friday morning, with the hearing going on from 9am local time (0800 GMT) until 6pm (1700 GMT).

The 60-year-old Platini has rejected any notion of corruption, claiming the suspect payment was part of an oral contract for work he did as an advisor.

Before his own hearing, Blatter strongly attacked the FIFA court, but still appeared in his own defence, accompanied by his Zurich-based lawyer Lorenz Erni.

On Thursday evening, Blatter’s Virginia-based lawyer Richard Cullen issued a statement calling for an acquittal.

“President Blatter looks forward to a decision in his favor, because the evidence requires it,” Cullen said in an email sent to AFP.

“President Blatter behaved properly and certainly did not violate FIFA’s Code of Ethics. This investigation should be closed and the suspension lifted,” Cullen added.

If found guilty, Blatter and Platini can go to FIFA’s appeal committee and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

– Blatter to speak -Blatter has already confirmed via his private spokesman Klaus Stoehlker that he will hold a press conference at a Zurich restaurant on Monday morning around the same time as the verdict is due.

It was a wave of US justice department indictments announced in May that unleashed the scandal which has since rocked FIFA.

On Friday, the Swiss justice ministry confirmed Costa Rican national Eduardo Li, the former head of the Costa Rican Football Federation, had been extradited to the United States.

Meanwhile, a judge in Uruguay said Switzerland will extradite former FIFA vice president Eugenio Figueredo to the South American country instead of the United States after his arrest in the corruption scandal.

In addition, FIFA’s Emergency Committee announced that normalisation committees will take over the running of the Honduran and Guatemalan Football Associations until September 2016.

The committees will “run the daily business” of the associations, “revise their statutes in order to bring them in line with the FIFA Standard Statutes, and…organise elections accordingly.”

Honduran FA president Alfredo Hawit was recently indicted by US authorities along with Guatemalan FA president Brayan Jimenez and secretary general Hector Trujillo.

Blatter and Platini are not among the group facing charges in the US but their possible long-term suspensions from FIFA would mark the highest profile casualties of the scandal.

Before his suspension, Blatter had agreed to step down when his replacement was chosen in a February vote and Platini had been the favourite to succeed him.

But the Frenchman’s campaign has been stalled by the ethics inquiry.