Sepp Blatter is out of a job at FIFA. Michel Platini might never even get there. Two of the most powerful men in soccer were handed 90-day suspensions by the FIFA ethics committee yesterday, essentially ending Blatter's 17-year reign as president and likely stunting Platini's chances of replacing him.
Both Blatter and Platini, former allies who turned into rivals in the build-up to the most recent FIFA presidential election, have become embroiled in a Swiss criminal investigation. Blatter has been labelled a suspect, and was questioned by authorities, while Platini was said to be somewhere between a witness and a suspect.
Both maintain their innocence.
"President Blatter looks forward to the opportunity to present evidence that will demonstrate that he did not engage in any misconduct, criminal or otherwise," Blatter's lawyer, Richard Cullen, said in a statement.
Platini also pledged to fight the decision, calling the allegations against him "astonishingly vague" in a statement sent from UEFA hours after the Frenchman was banned from working as the body's president.
"I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance," Platini said.
"I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies."
The statement from UEFA, which stressed "its full confidence" in Platini, has exposed the body's officials to potential action under FIFA ethics rules. According to UEFA statutes, Platini should have been replaced by Angel Maria Villar, the highest-ranking vice president.
"(Platini) is currently suspended and will therefore not perform his official duties for the time being," UEFA said in a statement, still referring to Platini as president.
"UEFA is fully aware of its responsibilities under the relevant provisions of the statutes."