LONDON (AP) — FIFA told Michel Platini on Tuesday that he cannot bypass its appeals process by challenging his eight-year ban directly at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Platini was hoping to cut out the required FIFA appeals procedure as he races to try to overturn his ban before the Feb. 26 presidential election.
FIFA said it wrote to Platini's lawyers on Tuesday to confirm that the UEFA leader can only go to CAS if the governing body's appeals committee first rejects his request. FIFA rules state a list of candidates must be finalized one month before the election in Zurich.
Despite FIFA following its statutes, Platini's legal team described the decision as "procedural sabotage" aimed at denying him a place in the election.
The lawyers told The Associated Press that FIFA officials have been asked to explain how their refusal to let him challenge his ban directly at CAS was compatible with the electoral calendar, and urged them to ensure "the election won't be disturbed."
Platini received fresh support from the French government over the case.
"I regret it because I'm not sure the core (of the case against Platini) was assessed in good conditions," French sports minister Patrick Kanner said on Europe-1 radio. "I support the president of UEFA, even if he's suspended."
Platini was banned on Monday for eight years along with Sepp Blatter over a 2011 payment of 2 million Swiss francs ($2 million) from FIFA that the president authorized for the former France captain.
Blatter's appeal will focus on FIFA's ethics judge being unable to find sufficient evidence of corruption or bribery in the case, which saw both him and Platini banned for unethical conduct.
"Blatter is eager to present his arguments to the appeal committee that the remaining charges must also fail because the evidence clearly demonstrates the relationship with Mr. Platini was in all respects appropriate," Blatter's legal team said in a statement.
AP Sports Writer Samuel Petrequin in Paris contributed to this report.