LONDON (Reuters) - The head of European soccer, Michel Platini, vowed on Monday to go to court to fight a decision by the independent Ethics Committee of the world football body FIFA to ban him for eight years, calling it a “pure masquerade”.
Platini and Sepp Blatter, the former FIFA president who is also appealing, were both banned and fined for ethics violations in connection with a 2 million Swiss franc payment that FIFA made to Platini in 2011, at a time when Blatter was seeking re-election.
Until he was suspended in October, Platini was the favourite to succeed Blatter as FIFA president in an election next February.
“The decision is no surprise to me: the procedure initiated against me by FIFA’s ethics committee is a pure masquerade,” the Frenchman said in a statement.
“It has been rigged to tarnish my name by bodies I know well and who for me are bereft of all credibility or legitimacy.”
Platini said his conscience was clear and that he would challenge the decision in the Court of Arbitration for Sport and ultimately seek damages in civil proceedings. “I will fight this to the end,” he said.
The French Football Federation (FFF) maintained its support for Platini with FFF president Noel Le Graet saying that he had been saddened and shocked by the former France midfielder’s suspension.
“He will continue to fight,” Le Graet said in a statement. “His life has been dedicated to football. He has done great things for UEFA and I hope that his good faith will be recognised.
“It seems unbelievable, but it doesn’t surprise me. The spokesperson of the Ethics Commission (Andreas Bantel) had already announced that Michel would be suspended for several years.”
That support was not shared by the head of the English FA, Greg Dyke, who had previously backed Platini to become FIFA president after Blatter announced that he was stepping down.
Dyke said he felt this would spell the end for the former France international’s FIFA ambitions.
“We took an early decision to support Mr Platini, we thought he had done a very good job with UEFA, and we were clearly all very disappointed when all this came out. We didn’t know,” Dyke said on BBC radio.
“I would think is the end for both him and Blatter.”
In a separate statement, FIFA said it “acknowledges the decisions of the independent Ethics Committee and has no further comment”.
Reporting by Mitch Phillips, Brian Love and Toby Davis; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Martyn Herman