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(WFI) If Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini are handed lengthy bans by FIFA’s top judge, the Frenchman’s presidential hopes are virtually doomed, according to the appeals process outlined to INSIDER by the secretary general of the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Blatter’s ethics hearing began at 9am Thursday at FIFA headquarters in Zurich. Platini’s lawyers confirmed yesterday that he will not attend his hearing at FIFA on Friday in protest at a process “he considers uniquely and designed to prevent him from putting himself forward for the FIFA presidency”.

Both men face being kicked out of football over a “disloyal payment” of $2 million Platini received from FIFA in 2011. It was a gentleman’s agreement with Blatter for consultancy work the former France international provided to the FIFA chief between 1998 and 2002. They deny wrongdoing but bans of five to seven years could result for breaching conflict of interest and non-disclosure rules. FIFA’s ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert is due to announce verdicts on the pair on Monday or Tuesday.

CAS secretary general Matthieu Reeb tells INSIDER that if bans are handed down to Blatter and Platini, a time-consuming appeals process was possible. Written submissions and hearings before the FIFA Appeals Committee is likely the first step.

“It is possible in theory to skip the FIFA appeals process and go directly to the CAS but only with the agreement of the parties concerned, Platini, Blatter and FIFA,” he said.

Both men have a 21-day window to appeal to sports highest court if bans are dished out by Eckert and the FIFA appeals process is circumnavigated.

Reeb said it would take about three weeks “to organize a proper procedure with a hearing and decision to be rendered”.

“In theory, we could give a final decision before the FIFA presidential election [on Feb.26],” Reeb said.

“But it doesn’t only depend on us, it depends on the willingness on the parties to progress quickly or not. It could be January or the beginning of February. There is a 21-day time limit for anyone to appeal to the CAS. If the time is used at a maximum then of course we have less time to render a decision.”

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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