Wednesday afternoon saw the FIFA Appellate Committee uphold a 90 day suspension handed down by the Ethics Committee in October that left President Sepp Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini banned from world football. This comes at a very unfortunate time for Platini as he looks to unseat his longtime friend and rival for the presidency in February.
Hilariously, both men are going to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland.
While banned from football, Platini's application for presidency cannot be vetted by FIFA. Five of the six remaining candidates are being vetted to make sure they aren't involved in any ethics violations (the last man being Chung Mong-joon, who was suspended for six years). Depending on how long FIFA takes to perform these background checks, there may just be time enough to carry out the process for him to run on February 26. Unfortunately he won't be able to campaign at all until his suspension has run its course or been overturned.
The controversy stems from a payment Blatter made to Platini ahead of the 2011 presidential race that, coincidentally according to the pair, happened right around the time the latter dropped out of the running. They claim the payment of around $2 million was for work performed around 2002 and it wasn't until 2011 that FIFA had the funds to pay Platini for services rendered. Now, to be fair, FIFA was in the midst of a huge scandal and just shy of broke. It is possible that Platini agreed to be paid for legitimate (hold your laughter) services rendered.
Asking for those funds while in the middle of a presidential race wasn't the best time, especially when he dropped out not long after receiving said money.
For Blatter, this smear on his image won't stop him from keeping his place as FIFA President. There are three ways that Blatter could keep his title as President, and it's a bit complicated so here is longtime FIFA writer Bill Archer, who has been covering FIFA corruption for about 15 years now, to explain it:
"First, they discovered that if only one person is officially listed as a candidate, the Congress will be asked to vote "Yes" or "No" on that individual. If he doesn't get a majority, then the election is null and void and the current president continues in office."
Now yes, that one seems like a long shot, but Sepp does have ways of pulling strings in these situations. It's not outside the realm of possibility, especially since FIFA has four months in which to vet every candidate. If you work at it hard enough, you can find dirt on anybody.
However, there's another stipulation that has people just a bit more concerned:
"If one - just one - federation representative rises from his chair and moves that the election be cancelled, the presiding officer must immediately call the question. No second is required.
And if the Congress then votes - by secret ballot of course - to not hold a vote (a simple majority will do) then the current president will continue in office."
Lastly it seems that if there isn't a winner in the election, than the election is null and void meaning the current president (Sepp Blatter) stays in office.
Considering the list of candidates, it's not hard to dig up dirt that is worthy of excluding them from the ballot. Also, despite the trouble FIFA has been under this year, Blatter has many loyal followers throughout the world that could carry out Option 2. With CAF and most, if not all, of AFC in his pocket, it would only take a few federations here and there for him to remain in power.
Should the appeal to the CAS fail for either Platini or Blatter, they do have one more option left: Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland. Whether there is time enough to do so before the election is a whole different matter.