Eight years. That was the length of the ban handed out by FIFA’s ethics committee to Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini. It should have been more.
Eight years will hopefully mean that we will never see either of them involved in the game again. Blatter is already 79, and the much criticized FIFA president was already on his way out after the corruption scandal broke earlier in the year.
Platini, 60, was gearing up to leave UEFA as president and try to get elected as Blatter’s successor at FIFA. The former French international was an incredible player in his day, winning numerous awards in the 1980s, including three Ballon d’Or awards. He’s considered to be one of the best players in that time period, along with Diego Maradona.
Platini didn’t have the same shroud of suspicion around him like Blatter did. The rumblings about Blatter being dirty were raised even when he took over as FIFA president back in 1998. Former UEFA president Lennart Johansson has been a Blatter critic for a long time, and his suspicions have finally been validated.
It’s rather naive of the pair to think that they can do an under-the-table deal like they did and not think that it would draw any attention. A payment of $2 million made for services rendered years ago based on what they called “a verbal agreement” is bound to raise some red flags. Blatter might just have been that arrogant as he has basically run FIFA like a mob organization for the past 17 years. No one at the executive committee meeting back in 1998 remember any such deal being made for Platini, and several people have come out and said that if someone was granted a $2 million payout, it would have been noticed.
Both Blatter and Platini has said that they will appeal their sentences, but hopefully no court in their right mind would overturn the verdict rendered by the ethics committee. These are two men that do not deserve to be in a position to make big decisions about the game of soccer, as it’s clear that all they really care about is lining their pockets.
We still have the aberration of a winter World Cup in Qatar in 2022, something that surely wouldn’t have happened unless several high-ranking members of FIFA weren’t so eager to accept bribes and gifts.
The bans handed out to Blatter and Platini is a good first step in cleaning house within the global soccer community. More and more people have been undone by the corruption investigation into FIFA, and all federations should take a long look at themselves to see if they need to make some changes. UEFA was often seen as something pure and good working for soccer’s best interest, but with Platini now exposed as a money-grubbing scoundrel, UEFA will also have to make some changes to the way they operate and find a new president that will actually work for the good of the game.
With technology advancing, it will hopefully become more and more difficult for dishonest members of FIFA to secure bribes and gifts in exchange for votes. All the governing soccer bodies will be under great scrutiny going forward, and they all have a lot to do in order to regain the trust of the supporters. The ethics committee sent a strong message banning two presidents: It doesn’t matter who you are or what office you are holding, things like this will not be tolerated anymore.
Goodbye Mr. Blatter, goodbye Mr. Platini. You will not be missed.