Zurich - FIFA's ethics judges are set to hear a defence in
the allegations against UEFA chief Michel Platini on Friday, although the
Frenchman will not be there to argue his case after vowing to boycott the
The Platini hearing follows an appearance at the same FIFA
court by world football's suspended president Sepp Blatter, who spent more than
eight hours at FIFA's Zurich headquarters being questioned in a corruption case
that may end his career.
Both Blatter and Platini, a FIFA vice president, were
suspended in October after Swiss prosecutors opened a criminal investigation
looking partly into a two million Swiss francs ($2 million/1.8 million euros)
payment made to Platini in 2011 for work carried out about a decade earlier.
The two men - once the most powerful figures in world
football - face longer suspensions in a verdict expected from FIFA ethics
judges early next week.
Platini has said the verdict has been decided in advance and
he will therefore not show up. He will be represented by his lawyers.
FIFA's ethics judges have dismissed Platini's claims of a
pre-determined verdict and pledged to review the evidence against him fairly.
Before his own hearing, Blatter launched similar criticisms
against the FIFA court, but still appeared in his own defence, accompanied by
his Zurich-based lawyer Lorenz Erni.
Also read: FIFA court to hear Blatter, Platini cases
Neither men spoke to the dozens of journalists gathered
outside FIFA on Thursday, but shortly after the hearing Blatter's
Virginia-based lawyer Richard Cullen issued a statement calling for an acquittal.
"President Blatter looks forward to a decision in his
favor, because the evidence requires it," Cullen said in an email sent to
"President Blatter behaved properly and certainly did
not violate FIFA's Code of Ethics. This investigation should be closed and the
suspension lifted," Cullen added.
Both Blatter and Platini deny wrongdoing. If convicted,
appeals to a FIFA's appeal committee and the Court of Arbitration for Sport
(CAS) are possible for both men.
- Bank accounts frozen -
As Blatter exited FIFA's headquarters on Thursday, possibly
for the last time, his temporary replacement warned that the unprecedented
storm surrounding the organisation may not be over.
Acting FIFA president Issa Hayatou and acting secretary
general Markus Kattner issued an open letter which noted that "there may
be further challenges ahead."
And in a sign of the seemingly ever widening corruption
probe within global football, Switzerland said that it had carried out a US
request to freeze about 50 accounts in Swiss banks.
A Swiss justice ministry spokesman Folco Galli said
"funds in the high tens of millions are blocked."
It was the wave of US justice department indictments
announced in May that unleashed the scandal which has since rocked FIFA.
Dozens of people are facing charges in US courts, but
Blatter and Platini are not among that group.
Their possible long-term suspensions from FIFA would however
mark the highest profile casualties of the scandal.
Before his suspension, Blatter had agreed to step down when
his replacement was chosen in a February vote and Platini had been the
favourite to succeed him.
But the Frenchman's campaign has been stalled by ethics
Separately, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, whose country
will host the 2018 World Cup, said Blatter should be a Nobel Peace laureate.
"That is someone who should be given the Nobel Peace
Prize," Putin said while Blatter faced questioning at FIFA. "His
contribution to the global humanitarian sphere is colossal."
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