Sepp Blatter is challenging FIFA’s ethics committee’s powers to remove him as president of football’s world governing body, according to his advisor.
Blatter and Michel Platini are both facing possible lifetime bans on corruption charges brought by ethics investigators who have recommended lifetime bans be handed out if corruption charges are proved.
The 79-year-old outgoing FIFA president is also considering an attempt to go over the head of the ethics committee.
His advisor Klaus Stoehlker told Press Association Sport: “Mr Blatter was elected by the FIFA congress and only the congress can remove his power.”
The recommended sanctions relate to corruption charges brought over a £1.3million payment made to Platini from FIFA in 2011 that was signed off by Blatter. The pair also face charges of mismanagement, conflict of interest, false accounting and non co-operation with or criticising the ethics committee. Formal hearings into the FIFA ethics code breaches will take place in December.
A spokesman for Platini’s lawyer Thibaut D’Ales confirmed the recommendation from the ethics committee’s investigatory chamber was for a lifetime ban if the charges are proved.
It is understood Blatter is also facing corruption charges, which under Court of Arbitration for Sport guidelines carry a lifetime ban if proved. Both he and UEFA president Platini are currently serving a provisional 90-day suspension.
French sports daily L’Equipe reported Platini’s lawyer D’Ales as saying the recommended lifetime ban was a “pure scandal” and ”disproportionate” and claimed that it had been deliberately leaked to further damage Platini’s hopes of running for the FIFA presidency.
D’Ales added: “This ban is subject to corruption being proved but it is clearly a disproportionate punishment.
“In releasing this, there is clearly a desire to harm. The masks are slipping one by one in FIFA, the electoral calendar is being manipulated and there is a strategy to eliminate Platini as a candidate.”
Hans-Joachim Eckert, the German judge who heads the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA’s ethics committee, opened proceedings against the pair on Monday after studying reports from investigators and a decision is expected before Christmas.
The 2million Swiss franc payment at the centre of the case was made to Platini in 2011 apparently on the basis of an oral agreement for work carried out while Blatter’s technical advisor from 1998 to 2002. The long delay in payment has yet to be explained, and it also appears the existence of the apparent debt was never flagged up to finance officials during the intervening years.
Other senior FIFA figures previously to receive lifetime bans include Jack Warner (Trinidad and Tobago), Chuck Blazer (USA), Mohamed Bin Hammam (Qatar) and Manilal Fernando (Sri Lanka).