We wind back the clock to September when Baye Oumar Niasse, linked with Manchester United and Chelsea, finished off a fine team move for Lokomotiv Moscow.
FIFA’s ethics tribunal has provided Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini with the reasons for its decision to ban them from football for eight years, clearing the way for them to appeal against the decision.
“The adjudicatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee … has notified Mr Joseph S. Blatter and Mr Michel Platini of the grounds for the decisions passed in December 2015,” the body said in a statement.
Platini’s lawyer Thibaud d’Ales said the UEFA president had indeed received the reasons behind the ban.
“We’ll read them, analyse them and launch an appeal on Monday,” D’Ales said.
In December, the ethics tribunal banned the FIFA president and vice president from football for eight years, saying they had abused their positions over a $2 million payment made to Platini in 2011 for work carried out between 1999 and 2002.
Blatter, who has headed FIFA since 1998, was also fined 50,000 Swiss francs ($50,000/46,300 euros) while Platini, the head of UEFA, Europe’s governing body, was fined 80,000 Swiss francs.
Statement from the adjudicatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee – https://t.co/TBILxK1DEw— FIFA Media (@fifamedia) January 9, 2016
At the time of the verdict, which heightened further the crisis rocking football’s scandal-plagued world body, the court insisted there was “no legal basis” for the payment that Blatter authorised for Platini in 2011.
The tribunal did not provide further details Saturday of the reasoning behind its decision.
Instead it stressed it had now “fulfilled its commitment to provide the grounds for the respective decisions to Mr Blatter and Mr Platini within the first half of January 2016.”
“After receiving the grounds for the decisions, both officials may lodge an appeal with the FIFA Appeal Committee,” the statement said.
If that appeal is rejected, the two men can appeal further to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the highest tribunal in sports.
At the time of the verdict, both men angrily vowed to fight the bans, which started immediately.
The tribunal decision promises to end 79-year-old Blatter’s four decades with FIFA in disgrace.
It also dealt a devastating blow to 60-year-old Platini’s hopes of taking over as head of FIFA in an election on February 26.
The UEFA president pulled out of the race earlier this week, saying the ban has made it impossible for him to put together a campaign to take on the sport’s most powerful job.
He told French sports newspaper L’Equipe that he no longer had “the time nor the means to go to the voters, to meet people, to fight against the other candidates.
“In withdrawing, I am dedicating myself to my defence.”
FIFA has since last May be rocked to its core by a cascade of corruption charges and arrests that culminated with the implication of the two long considered world football’s most powerful men.
The US justice department has charged 39 individuals and two companies over graft within world football going back decades, in a sweeping prosecution that has sparked an unprecedented crisis at FIFA.
A total of nine FIFA officials were arrested during two raids at the five-star Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich, on May 27 and December 3, by Swiss police acting on US warrants.
Manchester City are short of central defensive options as their busy January continues with Saturday’s third-round trip to Norwich.
Eliaquim Mangala suffered a hamstring injury in City’s defeat at Everton in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final on Wednesday. The full extent of the Frenchman’s problem is still not clear but he joins captain Vincent Kompany on the sidelines, leaving Martin Demichelis and Nicolas Otamendi as City’s only fit centre-backs.
With potentially eight games in the next four weeks – if they make progress in the FA Cup – manager Manuel Pellegrini could find his resources stretched and other players, such as right-back Bacary Sagna, may need to play centrally.
Pellegrini said: “We will see tomorrow the 11 starters but Bacary is an option to play as a centre-back. He has done it before and he likes to play in that position.
“He is an important option, especially now that Pablo Zabaleta has recovered from his injury and will start playing.”
Signing cover during the January transfer window is an option but Pellegrini says that is unlikely. The Chilean, who added that he won’t be rushing Kompany back, said: “For the moment, we continue with the same squad. I trust a lot in them and in the first four months of the season we could do it, so I think we can finish that way also.”
Norwich boss Alex Neil has no fresh injury concerns and while new signing Ivo Pinto is eligible for the match after completing his move to the Carrow Road club from Dinamo Zagreb on Friday, he will not feature having last played on December 9.