GENEVA – Sepp Blatter has lost his appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport against a six-year ban by FIFA.
Blatter said in a statement Monday it is “difficult” to accept but that “the way the case progressed, no other verdict could be expected.”
The former FIFA president, who was banned for approving a $2 million payment to Michel Platini in 2011, said he will accept the decision.
“I have experienced much in my 41 years in FIFA. I mostly learned that you can win in sport, but you can also lose,” Blatter said. “Nevertheless I look back with gratitude to all the years, in which I was able to realize my ideals for football and serve FIFA.”
The verdict ends Blatter’s hopes of becoming honorary president of the soccer body he left in disgrace.
Blatter could have appealed the CAS ruling to Switzerland’s supreme court. It can annul verdicts if legal process was abused.
Still, his legal problems are far from over.
Blatter now faces a separate FIFA ethics investigation into suspected bribery linked to multi-million dollar bonuses in top executives’ contracts. Swiss prosecutors also opened criminal proceedings against Blatter for the Platini payment, and a sale of World Cup television rights.
Blatter denies any wrongdoing.
Blatter said Monday it was “incomprehensible” that his claim of having a verbal agreement in 1998 was not accepted “in spite of my testimony to the contrary and the testimony given by other witnesses.”
The Court of Arbitration for Sport was judging whether Blatter was guilty of unethically offering a cash gift and conflict of interest with Platini, who was a FIFA vice president in 2011.
Blatter and Platini both said the $2 million was uncontracted salary based on a verbal agreement more than a decade earlier. From 1999 to 2002, the former France great was the newly elected Blatter’s presidential adviser.
However, their explanation of a salary deal was doubted by FIFA ethics judges, and by the three-member CAS panel on Monday.
“The payment amounted to an undue gift as it had no contractual basis,” CAS said in a statement.
The FIFA ethics committee investigated after the payment emerged in September 2015 during a wider Swiss federal probe of alleged corruption linked to FIFA.
Blatter and Platini — whose FIFA presidential bid was stalled, then ended, by the case — were banned from soccer duty for eight years last December. The FIFA appeal committee cut two years from both men’s bans as “appropriate recognition” for their long service.
After a separate CAS appeal hearing, Platini’s ban was reduced in May to four years, ensuring he lost the UEFA presidency.
When Blatter’s case came to CAS in August, Platini testified on his behalf during a 14-hour hearing.