Blatter, Platini face uphill struggle under scrutiny of appeal panel

Fri Oct 9, 2015 3:52pm EDT
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By Brian Homewood

ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA's Appeal Committee will never face a bigger task than ruling on the suspensions of Sepp Blatter and the man who has been most likely to succeed him as president, Michel Platini.

Last year, it was the focus of world soccer when it ruled against Uruguay's Luis Suarez's who had appealed his four month ban for biting an opponent at the World Cup in an incident seen by millions of fans on television.

But with the governance of the entire sport under scrutiny from U.S. and Swiss prosecutors, the Blatter and Platini cases are in a different league for a body that has track record of standing firm in the face of high-profile cases.

Despite their denials of wrongdoing, both men have gradually been submerged by the scandal that has rocked the world's most popular sport, beginning with dawn raids and a series of arrests at a Swiss luxury hotel in May.

Blatter and Platini were on Thursday banned for 90 days by the Ethics Committee which was reformed and ring-fenced as independent from FIFA under reforms which were passed in 2011.

Platini's hopes of succeeding Blatter, due to step down in February, now depend on whether he can overturn the ban at appeal. The Appeal Committee, headed by Bermudan lawyer Larry Mussenden, is part of the old FIFA structure. It hears ethics cases as well as those from on the pitch.

It comprises 14 members, who are elected by the FIFA Congress and are not allowed to sit on the executive committee. Only three are needed to conduct a hearing.Some, such as Fiji's Samuel Ram who was appointed in 2013, have a legal background.Others, such as Madagascar's Ahmad Ahmad and Austria's Leo Windtner, are presidents of their countries' respective football federations.

CATTLE RANCH   Continued...

UEFA President Michel Platini (L) congratulates FIFA President Sepp Blatter after he was re-elected at the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich, Switzerland, May 29, 2015. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich