English football chief Greg Dyke last night insisted that the eight-year bans handed out to outgoing Fifa president Sepp Blatter and his Uefa counterpart Michel Platini represented the end of the road for the disgraced duo.
The pair were yesterday suspended from all football-related activity by world governing body Fifa’s own ethics committee after being found guilty of corruption and conflict of interest breaches relating to a “disloyal payment” to the value of £1.3m made to the Frenchman in 2011.
Blatter, Fifa boss since 1998, was also fined £33,700 and three-time European Footballer of the Year Platini £54,000, although both continue to deny any wrongdoing and have declared their intention to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“For Blatter? Personally? No,” said Football Association boss Dyke in relation to whether he had any sympathy for the embattled Swiss. “He just doesn’t separate himself from Fifa. He thinks he is the same thing, and that’s rather sad. I don’t think he will recover from this.”
The Football Association had previously supported Platini in his bid to succeed Blatter as head of the crisis-hit organisation in the presidential election on 26 February, although that plan now lies in tatters.
“We thought he [Platini] had done a very good job with Uefa and we were clearly all very disappointed when all this came out,” added Dyke. “I presume that he will now go to appeal as well but I would think it is the end for both him and Blatter.”
Blatter, who was sporting a plaster over his right cheek, made a bullish appearance a press conference in Zurich following the announcement by the ethics committee and vowed to clear his name.
The 79-year-old continues to claim the payment was legitimate and was made to honour a “gentleman’s agreement” made in 1998 for work carried out between 1998 and 2002 by Platini while a technical adviser for Blatter.
“I will fight. I will fight for me and I will fight for Fifa. I am suspended eight years, for what?,” said Blatter. “To say that it’s a good day for me or for Fifa would be totally wrong.
“Let us say that I’m really sorry, I’m sorry that I am still somewhere a punching ball, I’m sorry that I am as president of Fifa this punching ball. And I’m sorry for football, that I’m serving for 40 years. Sorry for the 400 plus Fifa team members. But I’m also sorry for me.”
Platini issued a similarly vigorous rebuttal. He said: “The procedure initiated against me by Fifa’s ethics committee is a pure masquerade.
“It has been rigged to tarnish my name by bodies I know well and who for me are bereft of all credibility or legitimacy.”
Yesterday’s unprecedented events were the latest instalment in the wave of corruption which has engulfed Fifa in recent months. Seven Fifa officials were arrested in May, while US authorities have charged a total of 39 football officials and sports business executives over more than £134m in bribes for television and marketing deals.
Swiss prosecutors are also investigating the award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively.