Michel Platini arrives at FIFA to appeal 8-year ban
Suspended UEFA President Michel Platini arrives at the FIFA Headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, Monday, Feb. 15, 2016. Michel Platini's appeal against his eight-year ban from all football-related activity will be heard by FIFA's appeals committee today. (Walter Bieri/Keystone via AP)
ZURICH (AP) Suspended UEFA President Michel Platini walked into FIFA headquarters to appeal his eight-year ban over a $2 million payment approved by Sepp Blatter.
Platini declined to be driven past waiting media and strolled from his nearby hotel into the main entrance Monday at FIFA Strasse on a hill overlooking Zurich.
The former FIFA presidential hopeful denies wrongdoing and is challenging the sanctions imposed in December.
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FIFA's ethics committee found Platini guilty of accepting gifts, conflicts of interest and breaching loyalty and general conduct rules. He was fined 80,000 Swiss francs ($81,000).
Platini did not attend that hearing at FIFA, and ethics judges said his lawyers' argument was ''not convincing'' that a verbal contract entitled him to get uncontracted salary in 2011 for work as Blatter's presidential adviser from 1999-2002.
The FIFA appeals committee, which rarely overturns rulings, could give its verdict this week.
Blatter's appeal of his eight-year ban is to be heard Tuesday, just 10 days before the FIFA election congress he hopes to attend to see his successor chosen.
FIFA ethics prosecutors said they would lodge counter-appeals seeking life bans if bribery could be proved.
Both men can pursue further appeals at the Court of Arbitration for Sport if their bans are maintained.
Platini's hopes of following his one-time mentor into the top job were wrecked by the investigation into the $2 million payment.
It was first revealed by Switzerland's attorney general last September, when Blatter and Platini were questioned at FIFA headquarters after an executive committee meeting. Criminal proceedings were opened against Blatter and Platini was described as being ''between a witness and an accused person.''
The salary deal also provoked a FIFA ethics case that forced Platini's application to be a presidential candidate to stall.
Platini accepted last month that his legal problems would stop him from being cleared in time to properly contest the race.
''I have not been given the chance to play the game,'' the former France great told the Associated Press in an interview. ''Bye bye FIFA. Bye bye FIFA presidency.''
Still, UEFA has not appointed an interim president to perform Platini's duties ahead of the European Championship that kicks off in France in June.
UEFA has also said it will not begin a new election process until Platini ends his legal fight.
The appeals panel is chaired by Larry Mussenden, the former attorney general of Bermuda who heads the football federation for the Caribbean islands territory.
Mussenden is contesting the presidency of the CONCACAF regional body and, if he wins on May 12, would become a FIFA vice president.