Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter vowed to “accept” the verdict of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) as he arrived in Lausanne for his hearing against his six-year suspension from world football.
Blatter, who was the head of the governing body for 17 years until he stepped down in 2015 in the wake of the worst corruption scandal in the organisation’s history, was originally suspended for eight years along with ex-UEFA President Michel Platini in December.
The duo both had their respective bans reduced from eight to six years by FIFA’s Appeals Committee in February, leaving the CAS as the only remaining legal option.
The Lausanne-based CAS dismissed Platini’s appeal, which was fast-tracked as he still harboured slim hopes of being able to see out the rest of his term as President of European football’s governing body, in May.
The former France international’s ban was, however, cut by a further two years.
Blatter’s hearing was set for today back in July, with the CAS facing a deluge of cases involving Russian athletes ahead of Rio 2016 as well as the appeals filed during the Games, which were handled by an ad-hoc division based in the Brazilian city.
Platini, who remains key to Blatter’s slim chances of acquittal, was also seen walking into the CAS today.
Sport’s supreme court has not yet revealed when the decision on the Swiss will be released.
“My name wouldn’t be Sepp Blatter if I didn’t have faith, if I wasn’t optimistic," said Blatter.
"I will accept the verdict because, in football, we learn to win, this is easy, but we also learn to lose, but this is not good, I wouldn’t want to lose.”
Blatter and Platini were both sanctioned for an alleged "disloyal" payment of CHF2 million (£1.6 million/$2.1 million/€1.8 million) made to the Frenchman by the Swiss in 2011.
Both men denied any wrongdoing and said the money was for work Platini carried out for FIFA between 1998 and 2002, when he served as a technical adviser to Blatter.
However, the 60-year-old Frenchman didn't receive his money until 2011 and question marks were raised over the time delay.
Since his ban was reduced in February, Blatter was alleged to have been part of a trio of FIFA's top brass, along with former secretary general Jérôme Valcke - who had his own 12-year suspension cut by two years last month - and Markus Katter, who awarded themselves bonuses and pay rises totalling $80 million (£61 million/€71 million) over a five-year period.
Blatter also remains the subject of a separate criminal investigation, being conducted by Swiss authorities, relating to the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively.