Two of soccer’s biggest names have been banned from the sport for eight years

How the mighty have fallen.
How the mighty have fallen.
Image: Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann
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This is a developing story. 

Two of the biggest names in soccer—FIFA’s president Sepp Blatter and UEFA’s president Michel Platini—have been dismissed and handed an eight year ban by the sport’s ethics committee. The bans come into force immediately. 

FIFA’s ethics committee ruled that a “disloyal payment” of 2 million-Swiss francs ($2.17 million) from Blatter to Platini had “no legal basis.” The committee wrote in a statement:

Mr Blatter’s actions did not show commitment to an ethical attitude, failing to respect all applicable laws and regulations as well as FIFA’s regulatory framework to the extent applicable to him and demonstrating an abusive execution of his position as President of FIFA.

The pair, who deny any wrongdoing, are the latest high-profile casualties of a crisis that has engulfed FIFA for much of the last year. The corruption scandal is one of the worst ever seen in sports: fourteen current and former FIFA officials were indicted by the US following a raid in a hotel in Zurich earlier this year (May 27).

The ruling is the final nail in the coffin for Blatter—who had been leading FIFA for 17 years—and squashes any hopes of Platini replacing him to become FIFA’s next president, barring successful appeals.

In addition to the bans, which prevent the pair from participating in all soccer-related activities, Blatter has been fined 50,000 Swiss francs and Platini 80,000. Following the ruling of the ethics investigation, Blatter’s spokesman confirmed he will be appealing to the court of arbitration for sport.

In a defiant press conference, Blatter blasted the ethics committee for treating him like a “punching ball.”

He went on to say: “I will fight for me and I will fight for Fifa.” When asked how he felt, he replied: “I’m not ashamed. I regret but I’m not ashamed,” adding, “I am a man of principles,” while insisting he is still the president of FIFA.