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Blatter fights ban in marathon appeal

Fri, 26 Aug 2016

Lausanne: Former Fifa president Sepp Blatter fought to overturn his ban from football in a marathon, 14-hour appeal hearing yesterday, in a long-shot bid at redemption after his career ended in disgrace.

Blatter mounted his defence against the six-year Fifa suspension imposed over ethics violations at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which typically has the final word in major sport disputes.

Engulfed by corruption scandals since May of last year and the target of a criminal investigation in his native Switzerland, the 80-year-old Blatter appeared upbeat after emerging from the courthouse well into the night.

“It’s a long day,” Blatter said at 10.35 pm (11.35pm Bahrain time). “I cannot give any prognosis how it will be decided.”

He entered CAS shortly before 8am wearing a dark navy suit and sporting some light stubble, telling reporters he remained “optimistic” and had confidence in the arbitrators.

The case that triggered Blatter’s downfall first emerged in September of last year, when Swiss prosecutors said they were investigating him over a suspect two million Swiss franc payment ($2m) he authorised in 2011 to his one-time heir apparent, Michel Platini.

Blatter has insisted the payment was part of a legitimate oral contract, a claim that has been rejected in multiple hearings at Fifa’s in-house courts.

World football’s former most powerful man said he would respect the CAS decision, which should be delivered within weeks.

“I will accept the verdict,” Blatter said before the hearing.

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