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BLATTER: IT'S ALL AN EIGHT CRIME; FIFA chief finally fined & suspended from football.. but he is still only feeling sorry for himself over charges.

Byline: JOHN CROSS Chief Football Writer

SEPP BLATTER yesterday finally apologised after being banned from football - but only to himself.

Blatter said the word "sorry" EIGHT times in one minute during a highlycharged press conference after he and UEFA president Michel Platini were given eight-year suspensions.

Platini and Blatter both promised to appeal and will take their cases to the Court of Arbitration for Sport as they plead innocence over their involvement in a PS1.3million payment.

It means their cases could drag on for years even after football believed they had finally rid themselves of the pair following months of damaging allegations.

The FIFA ethics committee found Blatter, 79, and Platini, 60, showed an "abusive execution" of their positions p and as well as their bans, fined them PS33,700 and PS54,000 respectively.

But, in a remarkable response, Blatter unashamedly hired a conference room at FIFA's former HQ in Zurich and used the stage to say the only reason he is sorry is that the game's world governing body are still picking on him.

Unshaven when he arrived, and with a plaster below his right eye following the removal of a mole, Blatter referred to late South African leader Nelson Mandela and then said: "I am sorry that I am still a punching ball for FIFA. I'm sorry about me. I will fight, for me and for FIFA.

"Saying that I have bribed somebody by paying something - this is absolutely wrong and this is against my heart. I cannot be personally and morally responsible for the people I p p had no chance to elect and select. I have not a blind eye.

"How can I know what these people have been doing?"

Platini (below) said: "The decision is no surprise to me. 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."

FA chairman Greg Dyke believes the bans mark the "end" for both men.

Dyke said he had no sympathy for Blatter, adding: "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."

UEFA issued a statement in support of Platini, claiming it was "extremely disappointed" with the decision. It added: "UEFA supports Michel Platini's right to a due process and the opportunity to clear his name."

World football's governing body has been ripped apart by scandal, corruption and allegations surrounding not just Platini and Blatter but FIFA employees and representatives at all levels.

But the payment which has finally brought down Blatter and Platini is the PS1.3m made in February 2011 which was deemed to have "no legal basis" from the contract signed by both of them when Platini started working for Blatter on August 25, 1999.

The pair claim to have had an "oral agreement". But former UEFA president Lennart Johansson rounded on Blatter and insisted: "I remember the meeting. We didn't talk about it.

"I've checked this with the other people that attended the meeting. Nobody has heard anything about this. It's a complete lie."

j.cross@trinitymirror.com

Deluded! I honestly think he believes the nonsense he spouts GARY LINEKER Interesting to hear the reaction of 137 countries who voted for Blatter DAVID DAVIES Who is going to run FIFA now they have been put to sleep? RIO FERDINAND Now FIFA needs to get on with wholesale reform for good of game TRACEY CROUCH MP
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 22, 2015
Words:597
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