Michel Platini refuses to attend FIFA ethics case hearing

ZURICH: Michel Platini will not attend his FIFA ethics committee hearing Friday in protest because he believes his case has been pre-judged.

Platini's lawyers said in a statement Wednesday that the verdict "has already been announced last weekend in the press."

Though FIFA investigators have asked for a life ban to be imposed, Platini could reportedly escape with a ban of several years that would still effectively exile him and end his FIFA presidential ambitions.

"By this decision Michel Platini means to express his deepest indignation with a process he regards as solely political and intended to prevent him from standing for the FIFA presidency," the former France great's lawyers said.

Platini seemed to have lost the presumption of innocence and would be represented only by his lawyers, the statement said.

The decision was announced less than 90 minutes after FIFA ethics committee judges promised Platini a fair trial even if he carried out a threat to boycott the hearing.

"We would like to clearly stress that the adjudicatory chamber of the ethics committee will deal with the present case in the same way as with any other procedure independently and in an unbiased manner," the ethics panel's statement said.

The case centers on a potential rules-breaking conflict of interest when Platini got a $2 million payment from FIFA approved by Sepp Blatter in 2011 as backdated salary.

Blatter, who also risks a life ban, has said he will appear in person for his hearing on Thursday before the panel of four judges. It will be Blatter's return inside FIFA's home after an enforced absence of more than two months.

Platini's lawyers and Blatter himself have questioned the integrity of the ethics committee which suspended both of them ahead of the hearings during a period of intense legal trouble for scandal-hit FIFA.

Verdicts on Platini and Blatter are expected next Monday or Tuesday.

Any sanctions can be challenged at the FIFA appeal committee and then CAS.

The cases are expected to be resolved in January, at least one month before the FIFA election congress on Feb. 26 in Zurich.