Zurich - A FIFA court on Thursday starts
hearing the cases of suspended world football president Sepp Blatter and his
deputy Michel Platini on corruption charges.
Blatter has said he will defend himself
before the FIFA ethics judges on Thursday though he has described the world
body's ethics commission as "the inquisition."
Frenchman Platini, also the head of UEFA,
has said he will boycott his hearing on Friday insisting the case has been
decided in advance. His lawyers say FIFA investigators have called for a life
Blatter is under criminal investigation in
Switzerland over a $2 million payment that FIFA made to Platini in 2011. Both
have denied any wrongdoing.
With FIFA roiling from corruption scandals
being investigated by US and Swiss authorities, this case has stopped Platini
from pursuing his bid to take over from Blatter as FIFA president in an
election in February.
A verdict in the cases is expected to be
given as early as next Monday. More appeals, including to the Court of
Arbitration for Sport, are then likely.
But five other candidates are already busy
lobbying for the FIFA vote while the world body faces mounting calls for
radical reform, including from sponsors.
US authorities have charged 39 individuals
and companies over more than $200 million in bribes paid for football marketing
and TV deals.
Swiss authorities are probing FIFA's
management and the award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar
respectively. They say they have now uncovered more than 130 suspicious
transfers in an out of FIFA-linked accounts.
Blatter's hearing is due to start at 10:00
at FIFA headquarters.
The 79-year-old questioned the credibility
of FIFA's ethics committee in a letter sent to FIFA's 209 member associations
before the hearing.
"The manner in which the investigatory
chamber of the ethics committee communicates in the on-going investigation,
calling for the maximum penalty and reinforcing public prejudice, introduces a
tendentious and dangerous dimension," Blatter wrote.
A statement by Platini's lawyers said he
chose to boycott Friday's hearing after "the verdict was already announced
to the press by a spokesman...going against the presumption of innocence."
A FIFA ethics investigatory chamber
spokesperson told a French newspaper that Platini would be banned for
"several years." The spokesman said the comments were made in a
Blatter and Platini both deny any
wrongdoing and say the 2011 payment was part of an oral contract for work
carried out a decade earlier.
With football inquiries widening,
Switzerland has agreed to help a German investigation into possible corruption
in the awarding of the 2006 World Cup to Germany.
"The Office of the Attorney General of
Switzerland can confirm it received a request for mutual judicial aid in this
context," Nathalie Guth, a spokeswoman for the Swiss public prosecutor,
"The request will be treated as a
The request relates to claims made by Der
Spiegel magazine in October that Germany had paid $7.4 million to FIFA to buy
votes that allowed it to win the right to host the 2006 World Cup.