Platini's CAS appeal to take place in Blatter's presence

Associated Press

April 26, 2016

Michel Platini expects Sepp Blatter to attend as a witness in his appeal against a six-year FIFA ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Friday.

Platini's office said on Tuesday that Blatter has been called by FIFA as a witness for the hearing in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Platini, the UEFA president, was suspended by FIFA's ethics committee for receiving a two million Swiss francs ($2 million) payment in 2011 from Blatter, who was then the FIFA president.

Blatter has also been suspended for six years and is challenging his sanction. His appeal will be heard at a later date.

Both men deny any wrongdoing, and each is effectively the main defense witness for the other.

They claim they had a verbal contract for Platini to get backdated salary for work as Blatter's presidential adviser in 1999-2002.

Blatter's spokesman, Thomas Renggli, did not immediately confirm his plans to attend, and CAS declined to confirm which senior football officials were scheduled to attend.

FIFA's interim secretary general, Markus Kattner, is another potential witness, either in person or by video link. Kattner has been FIFA's finance director for more than a decade and handled Platini's request for payment in 2010.

FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Kattner's status in the case.

Platini's office said charges of corruption and falsification against him were dropped by FIFA's ethics committee, which originally requested a life ban last year.

FIFA ethics judges found Platini guilty last December of conflict of interest and lack of loyalty and imposed an eight-year ban. FIFA's appeal panel reduced the sanction by two years as reward for his long service to football.

Still, the three-member CAS panel will examine the case afresh and has power to impose a life ban if it judges that bribery and corruption were a factor. FIFA paid the $2 million to Platini three months before Blatter was re-elected as president.

The hearing on Friday will be conducted in French despite FIFA's opposition and preference for English, Platini's office said. The France great typically prefers to avoid speaking in English at formal events.

Platini and UEFA want a faster verdict than Blatter, to clarify their position before the European Championship. The 24-team tournament kicks off on June 10 in Platini's homeland.

If Platini fails to have the ban overturned, UEFA could organize a presidential election meeting of its 54 member federations in Paris.

The payment ended Platini's chance of becoming FIFA president when it became public knowledge last September, after Swiss federal prosecutors opened a criminal proceeding against Blatter.

Blatter was replaced in the FIFA presidential election two months ago by Gianni Infantino, Platini's long-time right-hand man at UEFA.