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 By PA Sport

FIFA opens proceedings against Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini over payment

Formal proceedings have been opened against suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter and UEFA chief Michel Platini in relation to a payment made by the Swiss to the Frenchman in 2011, the ethics committee of world football's governing body has announced.

Blatter, 79, and Platini, 60, will have formal hearings later this month with a decision expected before Christmas after Hans-Joachim Eckert, the German judge who heads the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA's ethics committee, opened proceedings following his studying of reports from investigators.

Last week, both men had their appeals against 90-day suspensions rejected by the governing body's appeals committee.

The provisional bans had been handed down after it emerged that Swiss authorities were investigating a two million Swiss franc (£1.35m) payment made by FIFA to Platini for work that was carried out nine years previously.

A statement from the adjudicatory chamber read: "The adjudicatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee chaired by Hans-Joachim Eckert has today opened formal adjudicatory proceedings against Joseph S. Blatter and Michel Platini based on the final reports submitted by the investigatory chamber.

"The adjudicatory chamber has studied the reports carefully and decided to institute formal proceedings against the two officials.

"For reasons linked to privacy rights and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, the adjudicatory chamber will not publish details of the sanctions requested by the investigatory chamber in its final reports.

"In the course of the proceedings, both parties will be invited to submit positions including any evidence with regard to the final reports of the investigatory chamber (art. 70 par. 2 of the FIFA Code of Ethics) and they may request a hearing (art. 74 par. 2 of the FCE).

"The adjudicatory chamber intends to come to a decision in both cases during the month of December."

Sepp Blatter (left) and Michel Platini both had their appeals against 90-day suspensions rejected.

Platini is now taking an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the hope that he will be able to stand in FIFA's presidential election on Feb. 26.

If Platini's latest move succeeds, Blatter believes that the former Juventus midfielder would see off competition from five other candidates to become the next head of football's world governing body.

He told Swiss broadcaster RTS: "Platini is an honest man. If he comes back, he will be elected."

Blatter once again defended his dealings with the UEFA president, saying: "Even in the FIFA regulations it's stated that a contract can be made either in writing or orally.

"It was a contract. An oral contract -- a work contract."

In the same interview, Blatter also spoke about his recent health scare, saying he had been "very close" to death after being hospitalised with stress and adding that he was "between the angels who were singing and the devil who was lighting the fire."

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