Blatter on the counter-attack

He lodges appeal against 90-day Fifa ban, exco urged to postpone presidential election

ZURICH • Sepp Blatter has signalled his intention not to leave Fifa quietly after lodging an appeal against a provisional 90-day ban imposed by the football world governing body's ethics committee.

He was relieved of his duties as Fifa president on Thursday but his determination to cling on to power, something he has never lacked, remains intact as he continues to protest his innocence.

The New York Times reported that the Swiss had complained that he only found out about his suspension after it was made public.

But Fifa's ethics watchdog rejected the 79-year-old's claims that he was not allowed to give evidence before he was banned, saying he was given "all his rights".

"He has appealed already to Fifa's appeal committee. He is defending his position and he's sure he will be found not guilty," Klaus Stoehlker, Blatter's friend and adviser, said.

Blatter is accused of signing a contract "unfavourable" to Fifa and making a "disloyal payment" to Uefa president Michel Platini.

NOT WILLING TO BE SIDELINED

He has appealed already to Fifa's appeal committee. He is defending his position and he's sure he will be found not guilty.''

KLAUS STOEHLKER, Blatter's friend and adviser

The ethics committee has also opened an inquiry into Platini over a £1.35 million (S$2.9 million) payment made nine years after the Frenchman carried out consultation work for Blatter.

Blatter's appeal will go to the Fifa appeals committee, headed by Larry Mussenden of Bermuda.

NYT reported that it had obtained a copy of Blatter's appeal, in which the Swiss objected to "brusque and unfair" treatment.

His legal team also demanded to see the ethics committee's case file and sought a hearing to argue their case in full.

Platini, who was also handed a provisional ban by the committee, has announced he would appeal against his own ban.

South Korean tycoon Chung Mong Joon, a former Fifa vice-president who was given a six-year ban from the game on Thursday, said yesterday that he would appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

He said in a statement that the ruling was a "shameful attempt to punish" his open criticism of Fifa.

Issa Hayatou, the African football confederation chief who is Fifa's longest-serving vice-president, is leading the organisation in Blatter's enforced absence.

Yesterday, the 69-year-old insisted that he is fit to fill in for Blatter despite long-running kidney problems that require regular dialysis.

Some Fifa executive committee members, including England's David Gill, Germany's Wolfgang Niersbach and Belgium's Michel D'Hooghe, yesterday urged it to discuss postponing the presidential election at an emergency meeting.

It is understood that the presidential election, due to be held on Feb 26, would be top of the agenda at the emergency meeting, likely to be held the week after next in Zurich.

It will also be raised at a meeting of Uefa's 54 member associations which has been called for next Thursday in Nyon, Switzerland.

Platini filed his nomination papers for the presidency hours before his suspension and postponing the election would help his cause.

THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2015, with the headline 'Blatter on the counter-attack'. Print Edition | Subscribe