“Neither in his written statement nor in his personal hearing was Mr Blatter able to demonstrate another legal basis for this payment,” FIFA wrote in a press release. “His assertion of an oral agreement was determined as not convincing and was rejected by the chamber.”
As the BBC explained, charges included conflict of interest and false accounting. Blatter called the payment a “gentlemen’s agreement.” Though the money was ostensibly for advising work completed between 1999 and 2002, some said Blatter paid Platini to support Blatter’s campaign for FIFA’s presidency.
Platini, 60, was also banned for eight years. He was expected to succeed the 79-year-old Blatter, who said he would step down once his replacement was chosen.
“To say that it is a good day for me or FIFA, it would be totally wrong,” Blatter said at a news conference after the decision was released. Invoking an occasion Nelson Mandela appeared at FIFA, he praised the sport before sarcastically apologizing for the league.
“I’m sorry for football,” he said. “I’m sorry for my 40-year career.”
Even as Blatter served a previous 90-day suspension, reportedly suffered a “small emotional breakdown” last month and appeared before the FIFA committee wearing bandages, some saw his comeuppance as just deserts.
“To Blatter’s vehement critics — including some respected senior figures in European football who really loathe him — the ban by an ethics committee, which has found its backbone, represents the grubby reality of Blatter’s methods finally, far too late, catching up with him,” the Guardian wrote. “To them Blatter was the Machiavellian master of power politics at FIFA.”
The FIFA head had expected a different result.
“Blatter looks forward to a decision in his favor, because the evidence requires it,” Blatter’s lawyer, Richard Cullen, said in a statement after the hearing, the AP noted. “The evidence demonstrates that President Blatter behaved properly and certainly did not violate FIFA’s Code of Ethics. This investigation should be closed and the suspension lifted.”
“I will fight for me and I will fight for FIFA,” he said. Of his health, he said: “I am back, and I am doing better.” And: “Thanks to my good heart, I never lost my mind.”
Platini was not immediately available for comment.
This story has been updated.