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 Thursday, 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 buildup to the most recent FIFA presidential election, have become embroiled in a Swiss criminal investigation. Blatter has been labeled a suspect and questioned by authorities, while Platini was said to be somewhere between a witness and a suspect.
"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.
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."
According to UEFA statutes, Platini should have been replaced by Angel Maria Villar, the highest-ranking vice president.
.... Lionel Messi will stand trial in Spain on three counts of tax fraud and could be sentenced to nearly two years in prison if found guilty.
Americans take dominating lead
Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson won the only match that reached the 18th hole, beating Australia's Jason Day and Steven Bowditch 2-up, the final touch on another dominant day for the Americans in the Presidents Cup.
The rest of the foursomes matches were not much of a contest as the Americans built a 4-1 lead. The South African duo of Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace won the only match for the International side, beating Matt Kuchar and Patrick Reed 3 and 2.
Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker topped India's Anirban Lahiri and Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee 5 and 4. Jordan Spieth, the No. 1 player in the world, and Dustin Johnson proved as formidable as advertised in a 4-and-3 win over New Zealand's Danny Lee and Australia's Marc Leishman. Bubba Watson and J.B. Holmes beat Australia's Adam Scott and Japan's Hideki Matsuyama 3 and 2.
... Alison Lee shot a 6-under 65 for a share of the first-round lead with China's Xi Yu Lin in the LPGA Malaysia. Michelle Wie was a stroke back along with defending champion Shanshan Feng, Yani Tseng and Chella Choi.
Kenseth takes pole
Matt Kenseth won the pole for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Kenseth turned a lap at 194.532 mph to edge fellow Chase contender and teammate Kyle Busch. Joey Logano qualified third for the Saturday night race.
AROUND THE HORN
Basketball: Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner scored 15 points and the U.S. women's team beat Dike Naples 86-50 in the third game of the Americans' European tour.
College basketball: Division I men's basketball has its first openly gay coach. Bryant University assistant coach Chris Burns came out publicly in a personal essay posted Wednesday on Outsports.com.