FIFA president Sepp Blatter and his UEFA counterpart Michel Platini have been banished from the football world for eight years each.
On December 21 the Fifa ethics committee ruled that both men should be punished over a 2 million Swiss francs (£1.35m) payment made to Platini by Blatter in 2011.
“Mr Blatter, in his position as president of Fifa, authorised the payment to Mr Platini which had no legal basis in the written agreement signed between both officials on 25 August 1999. Neither in his written statement nor in his personal hearing was Mr Blatter able to demonstrate another legal basis for this payment. His assertion of an oral agreement was determined as not convincing and was rejected by the chamber.”
The two had claimed the payment was related to a verbal contract over services rendered from 1998-2002 but have not been able to provide any kind of written evidence, while Swiss law has a five-year time limit on such payments.
Why the payment was eventually made nine years later in 2011 also remains a mystery. At the time Blatter was fighting an imminent challenge to his notorious presidency from Qatari Mohamed bin Hammam, who was himself banned for bribery.
The 79-year-old Blatter, elected Fifa president in 1998, appeared before the committee on Thursday December 17 and protested his innocence, whilst drawing comparisons with the Spanish Inquisition.
Former France star, Platini, meanwhile refused to show up and denounced the proceedings as part of a conspiracy to force him out of the running to replace Blatter as president.
Blatter had pledged to stand down following the disastrous corruption scandals that have plagued the global football body for years, culminating in a raid by Swiss police in May to capture nine officials indicted in the US on money laundering and racketeering charges.
Platini was once considered Blatter’s protégé and heir apparent but has undergone a dramatic fall from grace following investigations into the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to desert dictatorship Qatar.