We've been waiting for months to know what the fate of suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter and suspended UEFA president Michel Platini would be. The pair had been banned for 90 days by FIFA's ethics committee after being charged in involvement with "disloyal" payments made by FIFA to Platini in 2011, and now that same committee has made their final ruling: both Blatter and Platini have been suspended for eight years.
Blatter's FIFA career ends in disgrace after 40 years with an eight-year ban pic.twitter.com/g4plWNZ06F— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) December 21, 2015
The ban means that neither man can be involved in any official, FIFA-sanctioned football organizations or events for the next eight years. It effectively ends the sporting careers of both men -- Blatter, 79, had already resigned from his presidency effective as of when the governing body of world football can hold a special election to replace him. Platini, 60, had intended on campaigning to replace him, but his candidacy fell apart when these charges were leveled against him.
The ruling comes after a FIFA judge found Platini's defense argument that the payment of two million Swiss francs, worth a little over $2 million today, was based on an "oral agreement" for pay over services rendered years before was "not convincing." The judge did clear Platini of corruption and bribery charges related to the payment, but said that he felt that Blatter's actions "did not show commitment to an ethical attitude," and that he didn't "respect" the laws and regulations based around ethics in FIFA.
FIFA ethics verdict on Platini leading to 8-year ban pic.twitter.com/fI8InnxHmv— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) December 21, 2015
The pair had maintained that they did nothing wrong in relation to the payment ever since the charges were made, but obviously their arguments did not hold enough weight with the ethics committee.
FIFA were already preparing to hold a special election to replace Blatter, with the vote scheduled to take place in February. The ruling means that UEFA will need to call for a special election of their own now that Platini has been ousted -- when that will be is unclear, but with UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino standing as a candidate in the FIFA election, UEFA may wait until after that result before holding their own election, as Infantino would be the clear frontrunner.
No matter what, this is certainly the biggest domino to fall since the FIFA corruption scandal broke in May. It's been a long and bizarre journey since then, and it seems like there's going to be a lot more still to break before this is all said and done.