LAUSANNE: Suspended UEFA president Michel Platini's appeal against his six-year ban from soccer was being heard at sport's highest tribunal on Friday with former FIFA president Sepp Blatter among the witnesses.
Platini, who arrived in a taxi for the hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), is hoping that the ban will be overturned in time for the Euro 2016 tournament, which will be held in his native France in June and July.
CAS said a decision could even be made as early as next week, depending on how the day-long hearing progresses.
Platini, who was favourite to succeed Blatter as president of global body FIFA before he was banned, was mobbed by reporters and cameramen as he entered the building in a leafy Lausanne suburb.
Platini was banned for eight years in December along with former Blatter over a payment of 2 million Swiss francs ($2.08 million) made to the Frenchman by FIFA with Blatter's approval in 2011 for work done a decade earlier.
FIFA's ethics committee, which imposed the ban, said the payment, made at a time when Blatter was seeking re-election, lacked transparency and presented conflicts of interest. Both men denied wrongdoing.
Both had their bans reduced to six years by FIFA's Appeal Committee in February after it took into account their services to the game.
"Today, we're at the beginning of the game, a new game, in the final ... I hope the outcome will be good," Platini, relaxed and smiling, told reporters.
"Of course, I am optimistic that we are going to win, that I am going to win."
CAS secretary general Matthieu Reeb said that Blatter, FIFA and UEFA vice-president Angel Maria Villar and Jacques Lambert, head of the Euro 2016 organising committee, had been called to give evidence by Platini's lawyers.
He said the hearing, in front a panel of three judges, was expected to last all day.
"We don't know exactly when the final decision will be rendered, hopefully it could be early next week or a little later depending on what the parties today tell us," he told reporters.
UEFA will hold its annual Congress in Budapest on Tuesday but Reeb could not say whether the decision would come before it opens.
"Probably I will know about that later today because the timing is quite sharp," he said.
Blatter's own appeal against his ban will be heard separately at a later date.