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Blatter accepts ban after failed appeal

Press Association logoPress Association 5/12/2016

Former FIFA boss Sepp Blatter is "disappointed but not shattered" following his failed appeal against a six-year ban that was imposed amid the biggest corruption scandal to shake the world soccer body.

The 80-year-old Swiss, who was FIFA president from 1998 to 2015, lost his appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Monday (Tuesday AEDT) against his suspension from football-related activity.

He must also pay a fine of Swiss francs 50,000 ($A66,192).

CAS ruled Blatter had authorised a payment to former European football boss Michel Platini - worth about $US2 million - that amounted to an "undue gift" and therefore violated FIFA's code of ethics.

Blatter told Reuters in a telephone interview he was "disappointed but not shattered" by the ruling.

"I have accepted it now. I have got to the stage where I have struggled enough, I have worked enough," he said.

Blatter resigned in June 2015 after several dozen football officials, including FIFA executive committee members and former members, had been indicted in the US on graft charges, along with two sports marketing firms.

He was not among those indicted, but became embroiled in scandal when he was banned the following December by FIFA's ethics committee along with Platini, who was then president of UEFA.

The men were initially banned for eight years over the payment of two million Swiss francs (about $US2 million) FIFA made to Platini in 2011, with Blatter's approval, for work done a decade earlier.

The bans were reduced to six years by FIFA's appeals committee in February.

Both men denied wrongdoing and Blatter said the payment related to an oral "gentleman's agreement" between them.

CAS said its three-man panel had determined Blatter "breached the FIFA code of ethics since the payment amounted to an undue gift as it had no contractual basis".

Blatter branded the ruling "incomprehensible" after it was handed down, but said "the way the case progressed, no other verdict could be expected".

"What I find incomprehensible is that the existence of the oral agreement between FIFA and Michel Platini is still steadfastly negated in spite of my testimony to the contrary and the testimony given by other witnesses. A UEFA protocol mentioning the agreement is also disregarded," he said in a statement.

"I have experienced much in my 41 years in FIFA. I mostly learned that you can win in sport, but you can also lose.

"In this sense I have to accept this decision, although it is difficult to follow it because the principle of jurisdiction - culpability has to be proven by prosecution - was not applied."

FIFA acknowledged the verdict in a one-line statement: "FIFA has taken note of the decision rendered today by the Court of Arbitration for Sport."

CAS cut Platini's ban to four years in May but said Blatter had not requested a reduction.

Swiss prosecutors are now investigating Blatter on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and misappropriation over the payment, though he has not been charged.

Also, FIFA's ethics committee is investigating Blatter and two other former officials over salaries and bonuses they received while in office.

Those probes come against suspicion over the FIFA executive committee's allocation of the World Cup to Russia and Qatar on Blatter's watch.

Swiss authorities are investigating whether bribes were paid to help secure the hosting rights.

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