January 29, 2016 5:55 am

Sepp Blatter to show up at FIFA election even if still banned

FILE - In this Dec. 21, 2015 file photo, FIFA President Sepp Blatter arrives for a news conference in Zurich, Switzerland, after he was banned for 8 years from all football-related activities over a $2 million payment by FIFA to Michel Platini, the president of European soccer's ruling body UEFA. 2015 was the year when scandals off the field of play eclipsed exploits on it. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, File)

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GENEVA – Sepp Blatter expects to attend the FIFA election on Feb. 26 even though his appeal against an eight-year ban is unlikely to be resolved by then.

Blatter’s spokesman, Thomas Renggli, told The Associated Press on Friday that the suspended FIFA president “should be present at the congress.”

Blatter and his lawyers believe FIFA rules mean only a meeting of the 209 member federations who elect a president can formally remove one.

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“Only the congress, according to the statutes, can put Mr. Blatter out of his mandate,” Renggli said in a telephone interview.

Renggli also clarified the legal timetable for Blatter to challenge his ban by the FIFA ethics committee.

Blatter is scheduled return to FIFA headquarters on Feb. 16 for an appeal committee hearing, and an immediate ruling is expected. However, if the appeal panel confirms Blatter’s ban, it could take weeks to write the detailed verdict, Renggli said.

Case documents are needed in hand before appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport can be filed and registered.

The FIFA ethics committee banned Blatter last month for a range of charges, including conflict of interest in approving $2 million of FIFA money for Michel Platini in 2011.

Platini is also appealing against his eight-year ban for accepting the money as uncontracted salary when working as Blatter’s presidential adviser from 1999-2002. The case, which emerged last September, knocked Platini out of an election race he was favoured to win.

Switzerland’s attorney general opened criminal proceedings against Blatter for suspected mismanagement and misappropriation. The investigation relates to the Platini payment and FIFA selling undervalued 2010 and 2014 World Cup broadcasting rights for the Caribbean in 2005 to then-FIFA vice-president Jack Warner.

Platini was also questioned in September and has a status of “between a witness and an accused person,” attorney general Michael Lauber has said.

The Swiss investigation into FIFA’s business began in 2014 when FIFA lodged a criminal complaint about potential money laundering based on former ethics prosecutor Michael Garcia’s report into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests.

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