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Michel Platini's UEFA reign to end after CAS reduces ban to four years

Michel Platini will not resume his reign as UEFA president even though the Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced his six-year ban from football to four years on Monday.

Platini confirmed he plans to resign as a result of the decision but issued a statement to the media announcing that he will continue his battle to clear his name.

The statement read: "I take note of today's decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport but I see it as a great injustice.

"This decision imposes on me a suspension the duration of which will de facto prevent me, and as if by chance, from standing in the next FIFA presidential election.

"As agreed with the national associations, I resign from my role as president of UEFA in order to be able to continue my fight before the Swiss courts to prove my integrity in this case.

"Life has always kept some nice surprises for me: I'm from now on available to live them."

Platini and FIFA president Sepp Blatter received eight-year bans from all football-related activity by FIFA's ethics committee in December.

Those sanctions were reduced to six years by a FIFA appeals panel in February, but both men immediately took their cases to the CAS.

With Platini desperate to continue as UEFA president, his case moved more quickly than Blatter's, and the CAS said in a statement on Monday that Platini's suspension had been reduced and his fine reduced from 80,000 Swiss francs (CHF) to 60,000 Swiss francs.

The cases centre on a payment of 2 million Swiss francs, worth $2 million U.S. or £1.25 million at the time, made by Blatter's FIFA to Platini in 2011 for consultancy services provided from 1998 to 2002.

The timing of the payment coincided with Platini's confirming he would not oppose Blatter's re-election as FIFA president, but both men insisted that was not a factor.

In December, FIFA's ethics panel imposed the bans and said both had breached responsibilities of loyalty and had performed an "abusive execution" of their roles.

Despite the CAS' ruling to shorten the ban, Platini, who was elected unopposed for a third four-year UEFA term in 2015, needed it to be completely overturned.

Michel Platini left his role as UEFA president in 2015.
The CAS said it was not convinced of the legitimacy of the 2011 payment Michel Platini received from Sepp Blatter's FIFA.

Explaining its decision, the CAS said in its statement: "The arbitral panel noted the existence of a valid employment contract between Michel Platini and FIFA, signed in 1999 and including an annual salary of CHF 300,000. Such contract was performed by the parties and terminated in 2002 when Mr. Platini became a member of the FIFA Executive Committee.

"It was not until 1 February 2011 -- four months prior to the FIFA presidential elections and at a moment when Sepp Blatter and Mohamed Bin Hammam were both still candidates to the election -- that FIFA paid the amount of CHF 2,000,000 in favour of Mr. Platini. Mr Platini justified such payment as back pay, explaining that he had orally agreed with Mr. Blatter in 1998, when the future FIFA president was negotiating with him, to an annual salary of CHF 1,000,000. The Panel, however, was not convinced by the legitimacy of the CHF 2,000,000 payment, which was only recognised by Mr. Platini and Mr. Blatter, and which occurred more than 8 years after the end of his work relations, was not based on any document established at the time of the contractual relations and did not correlate with the alleged unpaid part of his salary. ... Moreover, the Panel took note that Mr. Platini benefitted from the extension of a pension plan to which he was not entitled.

"Consequently, the CAS arbitrators unanimously determined that Mr Platini obtained an undue advantage in breach of Article 20 of the FIFA Code of Ethics. Furthermore, the panel also found Mr Platini guilty of a conflict of interest in breach of Article 19 of the FIFA Code of Ethics."

The CAS said it found that the suspension that FIFA had imposed was "nevertheless too severe" and had therefore made the decision to reduce it to the length of a presidential term.

The statement continued: "The CAS panel was of the opinion that a severe sanction could be justified in view of the superior functions carried out by Mr. Platini (FIFA Vice-President and UEFA President), the absence of any repentance and the impact that this matter has had on FIFA's reputation. Contrary to the decisions challenged, the Panel considered that Mr. Platini could not be sanctioned for the violation of Articles 13 (general rules of conduct) and 15 (loyalty) of the FIFA Code of Ethics as the application of Articles 19 and 20 of the FIFA Code of Ethics (special rules) excluded the application of Articles 13 and 15 (general rules) irrespective of the Panel's findings that Mr. Platini's behaviour was not ethical or loyal. In addition, the Panel noted that FIFA knew of the CHF 2,000,000 payment in 2011 but initiated an investigation into Mr. Platini's behaviour with the FIFA Ethics Committee in September 2015 only."

Platini's presence at the European Championship in his native France next month would have been mainly ceremonial, but his enforced absence is a bitter blow to a man who led the expansion of the competition from 16 to 24 teams.

With new FIFA president Gianni Infantino's former deputy Theodore Theodoridis now running UEFA as an interim general secretary, European football's governing body is set to discuss its next move at a meeting in Basel, Switzerland, on May 18, the day of the Europa League final between Liverpool and Sevilla.

A UEFA statement released Monday read: "UEFA has taken note of the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport to suspend UEFA president Michel Platini from any football-related activity for four years.

"We have also taken note of Michel Platini's statement announcing his intention to resign as UEFA president.

"The UEFA Executive Committee will meet on the morning of 18 May in Basel to discuss next steps, including the scheduling of an elective congress.

"In the meantime, there will be no UEFA president appointed ad interim."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.


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