Embattled FIFA executives Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter are facing life bans from football, with the Fifa ethics committee charging them with corruption related to a £1.35m payment to the Frenchman in 2011.

The recommended sanctions are understood to be based on the allegation that Platini agreed to undertake a specific action in return for the £1.35m he received shortly before Blatter was re-elected for a fourth term. At the time the Swiss was facing a potential challenge for the Fifa presidency from the Asian Football Confederation president, Mohamed bin Hammam.

Platini and Blatter have accepted there was no written contract for the payment, said to be related to work undertaken by the Frenchman as a special adviser to Blatter between 1998 and 2002, but have denied wrongdoing. Platini has claimed Blatter told him at the time that Fifa could not afford to pay him, despite the governing body making £78m over that four-year cycle, and did not want to break its wage structure.

Platini’s own lawyer confirmed on Tuesday that the investigatory arm of the ethics committee had recommended a lifetime ban and the Guardian understands the same sanction is being sought against Blatter. The final decision will be made by the German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert following a personal hearing that is due to take place next month.

Both Blatter and Platini have said they believed their verbal contract was legal under Swiss law. However, Swiss law places a five-year time limit on such payments. The fact that the payments did not feature in Fifa’s accounts is believed to form part of the case against them.

In addition to the alleged corruption, the charges are based on four other potential breaches: mismanagement, conflict of interest, false accounting and non-cooperation with the ethics committee. The Swiss attorney general is investigating whether the £1.35m constitutes what is termed a “disloyal payment”.

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