The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Monday in Lausanne, Switzerland announced its decision in the arbitration procedure between UEFA president Michel Platini and world football governing body FIFA.
It said Platini’s suspension has now been lowered from six to four years and the 80,000 Swiss Francs (CHF) fine reduced to CHF 60,000.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Platini had on Feb. 26 filed an appeal at the CAS to request the annulment of certain FIFA decisions.
The decisions were issued by the Adjudicatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee and by the FIFA Appeal Committee.
They had suspended him for six years from any football-related activity at a national and international level and imposed upon him a fine of CHF 80,000.
NAN reports that the CAS arbitration procedure was submitted to a three-man arbitral panel composed of Italy’s Prof. Luigi Fumagalli as President.
Others on the panel are Prof. Jan Paulsson from France and Prof. Bernard Hanotiau from Belgium.
CAS said a hearing had taken place at its headquarters in Lausanne on April 29.
“The arbitral panel noted the existence of a valid employment contract between Platini and FIFA, signed in 1999 and including an annual salary of CHF 300,000.
“Such contract was performed by the parties and terminated in 2002 when Platini became a member of the FIFA Executive Committee.
“It was not until Feb. 1, 2011, four months prior to the FIFA presidential elections and at a moment when Sepp Blatter and Mohamed Bin Hammam were both still candidates to the election, that FIFA paid the amount of CHF 2,000,000 in favour of Platini.
“Platini justified such payment as back pay, explaining that he had orally agreed with Blatter in 1998, when the future FIFA President was negotiating with him, to an annual salary of CHF 1,000,000.’’
CAS added that the panel, however, was not convinced by the legitimacy of the CHF 2,000,000 payment, which was only recognised by Platini and Blatter.
“It also occurred more than eight years after the end of his (Platini) work relations, was not based on any document established at the time of the contractual relations.
“Also, it did not correlate with the alleged unpaid part of his salary, which should be CHF 2,800,000, based on CHF 700,000 in four places,’’ it said.
CAS said further that the panel also took note that Platini benefitted from the extension of a pension plan to which he was not entitled.
“Consequently, the CAS arbitrators unanimously determined that Platini obtained an undue advantage in breach of Article 20 of the FIFA Code of Ethics.
“Furthermore, the panel also found Platini guilty of a conflict of interest in breach of Article 19 of the FIFA Code of Ethics.
“Based on such findings, the CAS panel considered that the suspension imposed by FIFA on Platini was nevertheless too severe and therefore decided to reduce such suspension to four years, which corresponds to the duration of a presidential term.
“The CAS panel was of the opinion that a severe sanction could be justified in view of the superior functions carried out by Platini as FIFA Vice-President and UEFA President, the absence of any repentance and the impact that this matter has had on FIFA’s reputation.
“Contrary to the decisions challenged, the panel considered that Platini could not be sanctioned for the violation of Articles 13 (general rules of conduct) and 15 (loyalty) of the FIFA Code of Ethics.
“This is because the application of Articles 19 and 20 of the FIFA Code of Ethics (special rules) excluded the application of Articles 13 and 15 (general rules) irrespective of the Panel’s findings that Platini’s behaviour was not ethical or loyal.’’
CAS said the panel in addition noted that FIFA knew of the CHF 2,000,000 payment in 2011 “but initiated an investigation into Platini’s behaviour with the FIFA Ethics Committee in September 2015 only’’. (NAN)