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FIFA bans Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini from soccer for eight years

FIFA’s ethics court has banned president Joseph “Sepp” Blatter and vice-president Michel Platini from soccer for eight years in the latest fallout from investigations of corruption in the organization.

The verdict, which FIFA announced Monday morning in Zurich, bars both men from all football-related activities, effective immediately.

The decision centered on a $2.1 million payment that Blatter made to Platini, FIFA’s vice president and head of the Union of European Football Associations, in 2011. Blatter has said he paid Platini for consulting services he performed between 1999 and 2002. But Blatter could not prove any “legal basis” for the payment, which was a conflict of interest and violated FIFA’s rules of conduct, according to a statement from the FIFA ethics committee.

“Mr. Blatter found himself in a situation of conflict of interest, despite which he continued to perform his related duties, failing to disclose said situation and the existence of personal interests linked to his prospective activities,” the committee wrote in a statement.

That payment is also under criminal investigation by Swiss authorities.

The U.S. opened an inquiry into FIFA earlier this year, and in May, 14 officials were arrested on charges of taking bribes. On Oct. 8, Blatter and Platini were both suspended from soccer for 90 days along with FIFA secretary general Jérôme Valcke. More than a dozen more FIFA officials were arrested during a Dec. 3 raid on a Zurich hotel, but neither Blatter nor Platini were among those arrested at that time.

Both men intend to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the Associated Press reported. “I will fight until the end,” Blatter said at a press conference Monday. Platini called the decision a “masquerade.”

Blatter had led FIFA since 1998, and had planned to leave the position in February. Issa Hayatou is currently serving as interim president, and FIFA will elect a new president on Feb. 26, 2016.

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