Updated with International Olympic Committee urging action
FIFA President Sepp Blatter and two other high-ranking officials have been provisionally suspended by the world soccer organization for 90 days by the sport’s ethics committee.
Secretary General Jerome Valcke, the No. 2 man in world soccer, and Vice President Michel Platini, the head of European soccer, also were suspended by the committee, which is looking into allegations of widespread corruption in the organization. In addition, the committee banned Chung Mong-joon, a former vice-president, for six years. The men deny any wrongdoing and are barred from any football activity for the next three months.
“The grounds for these decisions,” the committee said in a statement, “are the investigations that are being carried out by the investigatory chamber of the ethics committee.”
Platini and Chung have indicated that they hope to succeed Blatter when/if he steps down as FIFA president in February and the four men have 48 hours in which to appeal their suspensions. In Blatter’s absence, Issa Hayatou will run the organization, according to Rob Harris of the Associated Press. Hayatou was reprimanded by the International Olympic Committee in 2011 over FIFA kickbacks.
In a statement Harris posted on Facebook, Blatter’s lawyer promised a fight over the suspension:
“President Blatter was disappointed that the Ethics Committee did not follow the Code of Ethics and Disciplinary Code, both of which provide for an opportunity to be heard. Further, the Ethics Committee based its decision on a misunderstanding of the actions of the Attorney General in Switzerland, which has opened an investigation but brought no charge against the President. In fact, the prosecutors will be obliged by law to dismiss the case if their investigation, barely two weeks old, does not establish sufficient evidence. President Blatter looks forward to the opportunity to present evidence that will demonstrate that he did not engage in any misconduct, criminal or otherwise.”
Harris also notes that Blatter’s suspension comes a day before the announcement of the winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, a prize for which he was touted by Russian President Vladimir Putin last summer.
Blatter, in August, decided not to run for re-election to a spot on the IOC and, at mid-morning Wednesday, the IOC applied pressure, urging change on FIFA, saying:
“Enough is enough. We hope that now, finally, everyone at FIFA has at last understood that they cannot continue to remain passive. They must act swiftly to regain credibility because you cannot forever dissociate the credibility of FIFA from the credibility of football. FIFA must realize that this is now about more than just a list of candidates. This is also a structural problem and will not be solved simply by the election of a new President.
“They must do two things immediately: they must accelerate and deepen the reform process in order to comply with accountability, transparency and all the principles of good governance, as expressed in our reform programme, Olympic Agenda 2020.
“They should also be open for a credible external presidential candidate of high integrity, to accomplish the necessary reforms and bring back stability and credibility to FIFA.”
Here’s the full statement by FIFA’sethics committee:
The adjudicatory chamber of the Ethics Committee chaired by Hans Joachim Eckert has provisionally banned FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, UEFA President and FIFA Vice-President Michel Platini, and FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke (who has already been put on leave by his employer FIFA) for a duration of 90 days. The duration of the bans may be extended for an additional period not exceeding 45 days. The former FIFA Vice-President Chung Mong-joon has been banned for six years and fined CHF 100,000. During this time, the above individuals are banned from all football activities on a national and international level. The bans come into force immediately.
The grounds for these decisions are the investigations that are being carried out by the investigatory chamber of the Ethics Committee. The chairman of the chamber is Dr Cornel Borbély. The investigation into Joseph S. Blatter is being carried out by Robert Torres, the investigation into Michel Platini by Vanessa Allard.
The proceedings against the South Korean football official Chung Mong-joon were opened in January 2015 based on findings in the report on the investigation into the bidding process for the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cups™. He has been found guilty of infringing article 13 (General rules of conduct), article 16 (Confidentiality), article 18 (Duty of disclosure, cooperation and reporting), article 41 (Obligation of the parties to collaborate) and article 42 (General obligation to collaborate) of the FIFA Code of Ethics.
The Ethics Committee is unable to comment on the details of the decisions until they become final, due to the provisions of article 36 (Confidentiality) of the FIFA Code of Ethics.