By Andrew Warshaw
March 5 – Former UEFA president Michel Platini, who has been free to work again in football from last October, has nevertheless suffered another blow to his reputation after losing his appeal at the European Court of Human Rights against his four-year ban from the game.
The unanimous ruling by seven judges to declare Platini’s application inadmissible is the latest and possibly final setback to the Frenchman’s hopes of clearing his name.
Aspects of Platini’s appeal were “manifestly ill-founded,” the court said in a statement. “The court found in particular that, having regard to the seriousness of the misconduct, the senior position held by Mr. Platini in football’s governing bodies and the need to restore the reputation of the sport and of FIFA, the sanction did not appear excessive or arbitrary.”
The ruling represented the fifth legal defeat for Platini whose ban officially ended almost six months ago but who has always protested his innocense over the so-called “disloyal payment” of CHF 2 million he received with former FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s approval as an oral agreement for work Platini performed as an adviser to his one-time mentor a decade earlier.
The payment emerged in September 2015 scuppering Platini’s plans to succeed the veteran Blatter as FIFA president which he has long believed was a conspiracy to stop him taking over.
Platini’s original eight-year ban was reduced to six and then four while Blatter is still serving his own six-year ban.
Platini had claimed his suspension had not been subject to a fair and independent hearing and that the ban was excessive and an illegal restraint of trade. In response the court offered a 9,000-word judgment that concluded: “This complaint is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected.”
The ruling may have been widely anticipated but nevertheless represents yet another damaging personal hit to Platini’s hopes of resurrecting his career which he says he wants to do amid all manner of rumour.
FIFA, which is conducting its own legal process against Platini and Blatter to recoup the money it says it is owed, immediately issued a statement that starkly illustrated its continuing feud with the men who were once the two most powerful figures in world football.
“FIFA will continue to seek restitution of the CHF 2 million unduly paid by former FIFA president Joseph Blatter to Mr Platini back in February 2011,” it said after the ECHR ruling.
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