Disgraced former Fifa president Sepp Blatter will on Thursday present his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in a bid to overturn his six-year ban from football.
Blatter was originally last October suspended by Fifa’s ethics committee over an unexplained 2 million Swiss franc payment (1.8 million euros) he authorised in 2011 to former Uefa president Michel Platini.
“I’m very confident,” the 80-year-old Blatter told AFP last week, although his prospects for having the original verdict overturned appear remote.
A full investigation and trial by the ethics committee found Blatter and Platini both guilty of violations. They were banned from football for eight years in December. A Fifa appeals committee cut those penalties to six years in February, just before Gianni Infantino was elected to succeed Blatter as Fifa president.
Blatter’s hopes of success may be tempered by Platini’s failed appeal at the Lausanne-based court. In a May ruling CAS judges said they were “not convinced” that the $2 million payment was legitimate. They did however reduce the suspension against the former French star and European football chief from six years to four, judging Fifa’s penalty “too severe.”
Both Blatter and Platini have denied any wrongdoing and insisted the payment was part of a legitimate verbal contract. Platini had been hired by Blatter as a consultant from 1999 to 2002 but the Frenchman was not paid for his services until 2011.
Blatter has maintained his innocence at the end of a year which has seen his reputation demolished.
“FIFA made the contract with Platini, and this was an oral contract,” he told AFP last week. “So far in the FIFA committees, in the ethics committee and in the appeal committee, they were saying: we don’t believe that. But we are not all liars. So I think there is a good chance that this panel will believe that there was a contract.”
The hearing marks the latest legal battle in a series of scandals that began in May of last year, when the US Justice Department moved against top Fifa officials and sports marketin executives.