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Dec. 21, 2015 — A final dagger for Blatter?

Word came down early today from a German judge serving as an investigator on a FIFA ethics panel that both FIFA President Sepp Blatter and his hand-picked successor, UEFA President Michel Platini, were banned from all soccer activities for eight years.

The ban came days after a hearing held by FIFA ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert into a $2.1 million payment made in 2011, allegedly for work done in between 1998 and 2002, when Platini was working on the FIFA technical committee.

Stunningly, the two men have made their intention to appeal the ban to the European Court for Arbitration for Sport. Given the accusations against the two men and their associates that have erupted over the last six months, their actions are absolutely galling and childish in the face of the mountain of evidence and charges against numerous people involved in world soccer since that May 2015 raid on a luxury hotel in Zurich.

Aside from the accusations leading to today suspensions, there were indictments in Switzerland and the United States. A few days ago, American indictments fingered a number of South and Central American countries. And we noticed the utter lack of indictments against soccer officials in Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, the Caribbean, and North America; there are certainly more to come.

But there was also a revelation three days after the American indictments, as the BBC broadcast a story, referring to documents, indicating that Blatter had full knowledge of $100 million in bribes paid to a pair of FIFA officials for worldwide broadcasting and marketing rights.

While the money and the bribes and the documents aren’t much of a surprise, the plot twist today involves the fact that a FIFA ethics panel made this decision. Normally, when a governing body investigates itself, it results in an embarrassment or a whitewash of the charges.

But this is FIFA’s hand-picked arbitrator. And he found enough to expel Blatter and Platini for eight years.

It’s going to be interesting to see what happens now with FIFA’s election, which is going to be even more interesting than the Republicans in Iowa.


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