Blatter mounts final FIFA ban appeal

Lausanne,  (AFP) Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter began his final appeal today against his six-year ban from football, in a long-shot quest for redemption after his career ended in scandal.

Blatter entered the world's top sports court for a one-day hearing seeking to overturn a suspension imposed by FIFA over ethics violations.
"I will accept the verdict," Blatter, 80, told journalists outside the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland.

"I do hope it will be positive for me, but we are footballers. We learn to win but also we learn to lose," he added.

The case that triggered Blatter's downfall first emerged in September of last year, when Swiss prosecutors said they were investigating Blatter over a suspect two million Swiss franc payment ( 2 million, 1.8 million euros) he authorised in 2011 to his one-time heir apparent, Michel Platini.

Platini, the former head of European football, was also sanctioned by FIFA over the funds.

The Frenchman lost his CAS appeal in May in a verdict that likely diminishes Blatter's hopes of victory.

Arguments are expected to last one day, but a decision may take several weeks.

Blatter entered CAS shortly past 8:00 (0600 GMT), pulling up to the leafy court house in a black Mercedes sedan and flanked by his Zurich-based lawyer Lorenz Erni.

Restating a justification for the infamous Platini payment he has made repeatedly over the last year, Blatter insisted FIFA owned money to the ex-Juventus star.

Platini had been hired by FIFA as a consultant from 1999 to 2002 and had apparently not received his full compensation.

"I am sure, at the end... that the panel will understand that the payment made to Platini was really a debt that we had" with him, Blatter said Thursday.

"This is a principle: if you have debts you pay them."

FIFA's ethics committee was not convinced by the explanation, banning both Blatter and Platini for eight years in December. Those suspensions were however cut to six years on appeal in February.


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