Platini to find out by May 9 if CAS appeal is successful


LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) – Michel Platini will discover by May 9 if he has overturned a six-year ban from FIFA over a $2 million payment approved by Sepp Blatter.

After failing to persuade two FIFA tribunals of his innocence, Michel Platini spent eight hours in a closed-door session at the Court of Arbitration for Sport to try to clear his name before returning as UEFA president and a FIFA vice president.

“I explained the truth. I have nothing to reproach myself for,” Platini said in French on leaving the court.

Asked twice how it felt to meet again with Blatter, who spent 90 minutes at the court as a witness for FIFA, Platini merely smiled and said: “Magnifique.”

Still, there will be no verdict before Tuesday when UEFA gathers in Budapest, Hungary, for its annual congress. The 54 European soccer federations have been without their leader for seven months ahead of the European Championship kicking off in Platini’s native France.

CAS secretary general Matthieu Reeb said Platini did not request an urgent verdict which would have allowed UEFA members to plan for an election to succeed their president since 2007.

“The arbitrators would have worked over the weekend to render a decision,” Reeb said.

Instead, a three-member panel who judged the evidence in Platini’s case afresh have up to 10 days to give their verdict.

The CAS panel still has the authority to impose a life ban for corruption. Previously, FIFA’s ethics and appeals committees ruled out bribery as a factor, and found Platini and Blatter guilty of charges including conflict of interest and disloyalty.

Blatter, the former FIFA president, arrived at 10:30 a.m. to be a witness at FIFA’s request. He employed Platini as a presidential adviser from 1999-2002, nine years before FIFA paid Platini the $2 million in uncontracted salary.

“I accepted this task. I’m on good form and I’m happy to be a witness in this matter,” Blatter said before going in.

He emerged 90 minutes later.

“It was fair and correct,” Blatter said. “I do hope that my participation has helped to find a solution to this problem.”

Platini and his former mentor deny wrongdoing, and claim they had a verbal contract for the additional money. FIFA eventually paid Platini three months before Blatter was re-elected as president in 2011.

“I had confidence in Mr. Blatter that he would pay me,” Platini said, when asked about the nine-year delay. “What is the problem?”

Both are effectively the star witness in each other’s appeal case, and were heard on back-to-back days by the two earlier FIFA tribunals.

This time, Blatter’s appeal against his six-year ban will be heard at a later date, and by a separate CAS panel of judges.

Platini’s verdict will be announced before a hearing is held for Blatter, despite their cases involving much of the same evidence.

Platini has shown more urgency to go to CAS as he and UEFA seek clarity before the European Championship kicks off on June 10. Platini hopes to clear his name to oversee the tournament, being played in his native France for the first time since 1984, when he captained the host nation to victory.

UEFA’s priorities include organizing a presidential election – in Paris in June, or more likely Athens, Greece, in September – to replace Platini if he remains banned.

One of the potential candidates to succeed Platini was among the witnesses on Friday. UEFA and FIFA vice president Angel Maria Villar of Spain declined to speak with reporters before and after his 90-minute session in the court.

A third witness is Jacques Lambert, the Euro 2016 tournament director and a longtime friend of Platini. Lambert and Platini led the 1998 World Cup organizing operation in France before the former France great went to work for FIFA.

Long seen as Blatter’s heir apparent, Platini’s chance of becoming FIFA president was ended by the payment, which became public knowledge last September when Swiss federal prosecutors opened criminal proceedings against Blatter for suspected mismanagement.

Blatter was replaced as FIFA president two months ago by Gianni Infantino, Platini’s long-time right-hand man at UEFA.

Six weeks before Euro 2016 kicks off, UEFA has no working president and an interim secretary general.

CAS appointed Luigi Fumagelli of Italy to chair the panel judging Platini. Fumagelli was a member of the panel which upheld a four-month ban for Barcelona forward Luis Suarez for biting an Italy defender when playing for Uruguay at the 2014 World Cup.

Platini’s legal team chose Jan Paulsson of France from the list of CAS-approved judges, and FIFA picked Bernard Hanotiau of Belgium.

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