A FIFA appeal committee has decided that the eight-year ban from football related activity handed down to the disgraced duo of Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini was too onerous, and has made it six instead.
While unlikely to make any real difference to the former FIFA and UEFA president’s futures, the ruling is being denounced as an embarrassment at a time when the governing body is desperately trying to reclaim some sense of honour.
The committee justified its decision, ahead of the key vote for Blatter’s successor on February 26, by arguing: “Mr Platini’s and Mr Blatter’s activities and the services they had rendered to Fifa, Uefa and football in general over the years, should deserve appropriate recognition as a mitigating factor.”
It represents a startling about-face, especially as the investigatory arm of the inquiry had actually challenged the original eight-year ban as insufficient and demanded a lifetime dismissal from the game.
Seemingly unaware of the a broad public disgust for their activities, regardless of their legality, the egotistical Swiss and his French protégé have already complained about the new six-year ban. Blatter described his treatment as ‘shameful’ and ‘insulting’, while Platini proclaimed his innocence and said the charges are baseless.
The future beyond their tumultuous tenure will become slightly clearer following Friday’s crucial vote for the next president, although observers are highly sceptical that real change will emerge from the secret ballot conducted in a hall of smoke and mirrors.
The frontrunner, Sheikh Salman of the Bahraini football confederation, has openly admitted his lack of genuine interest in the game, while the remarkable situation of appointing the spawn and relatives of incestuously feudal dictatorial dynasties to the top positions in world football.