Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini were each banned for eight years by the FIFA ethics committee on Monday in a stunning removal of world soccer's most powerful leaders. FIFA President Blatter and his one-time protege Platini were kicked out of the sport for conflict of interest and disloyalty to FIFA in a $2 million payment deal that is also the subject of a criminal investigation in Switzerland. In a defiant news conference shortly after the verdict was announced, Blatter said he would appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, insisting he had done nothing wrong. "I will fight," Blatter said. "I will fight until the end." His last words on leaving the conference were "I'll be back."
Blatter's FIFA career is ending in disgrace after more than 17 years as president and 40 years in total with the governing body. FIFA's ethics judges decided that Blatter and Platini broke ethics rules on conflicts of interest, breach of loyalty, and offering or receiving gifts. Both denied wrongdoing in 2011 when Platini took $2 million of FIFA money approved by Blatter as uncontracted salary for work as a presidential adviser from 1999-2002. In Monday's verdict, Blatter was fined $50,250 and Platini $80,400. "I regret, but I am not ashamed," said Blatter. "I am sorry that I am a punching ball. I am sorry for football."