FIFA has provisionally banned President Sepp Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini for 90 days in the wake of a Swiss criminal investigation. The move by the FIFA ethics committee further taints Blatter’s 40-year career at FIFA, including 17 years as president. It also damages the hopes of Platini to replace Blatter in the February election.
Swiss authorities turned up at Blatter’s office at FIFA headquarters last month and interrogated him. The criminal case centers on Blatter allegedly misusing FIFA money by making a $2 million payment to Platini, who was questioned as a witness.
Blatter was also questioned by Swiss investigators about broadcasting contracts sold to former FIFA vice president Jack Warner in 2005 that were supposedly undervalued.
Earlier , the ethics watchdog of the scandal-tainted FIFA were locked in long deliberations to decide the fate of the world football president Sepp Blatter. The ethics committee tribunal was also to decide as to what action needs to be taken against UEFA president Michael Platini and former FIFA vice president Chung Mong-Joon, both candidates in the fray to take over from Blatter, if he leaves.
As the FIFA drama intensified, the British media reported that the ethics committee had recommended a provisional suspension of 90 days for Blatter. But a close associate of the besieged FIFA chief dismissed the claims. “I was with president Blatter 30 minutes ago and no information of this kind was communicated to us,” the associate told AFP, while a spokesman for the committee tribunal refused to comment.
The reports were based on statements by Klaus Stoehlker, described as a close adviser to Blatter. However, in June, FIFA denied any legitimacy to Stoehlker, claiming that his duties with Blatter had ended on May 31. Meanwhile, Chung hit out at Blatter, calling him “a hypocrite and a liar” and threatening a legal case for embezzlement of FIFA funds.
The 79-year-old Blatter, who has ruled FIFA for 17 years, insisted in a German magazine interview, that he would not be forced out of office before an election to be held in February 2016. FIFA has kept the activities of its independent ethics committee cloaked in secrecy in the recent months as accusations of corruption have mounted.
Abdoulaeye Makhtar Diop, a former Senegal sports minister, said in a statement: “the members will focus on the topics of the Swiss Sepp Blatter, FIFA president, the Frenchman Michel Platini, president of UEFA, and the South Korean Chung Mong-Joon.” FIFA officials refused to comment on the disclosure.
Meanwhile an embattled FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said he was “condemned without any evidence” amid the corruption scandal rocking the world football’s governing body he is running and confirmed that he has no intention of quitting his post until February 2016.
“It is outrageous. I am being condemned without there being any evidence for wrongdoing,” Efe quoted Blatter as saying. The FIFA president insisted that he will leave office, as announced at the time, on February 26, 2016, during the extraordinary congress of FIFA which will elect his successor.
Swiss prosecutors opened proceedings against Blatter in September, amid the corruption scandal of his organisation, which produced pressure on him to leave office.
Earlier this month, three of the major sponsors of FIFA — Coca-Cola, McDonalds and Visa — demanded the immediate withdrawal of Blatter after accusations of alleged bribery.
Blatter, who is heading FIFA since 1998, was re-elected president in late May, but days later he resigned in light of the corruption scandal and the FIFA Congress will convene in February to hold new elections.