Football: Fifa's ethics body bans chief Blatter and European boss Platini

Cameroon's Issa Hayatou (left, in a 2012 picture) will now serve as the acting president of Fifa, replacing Sepp Blatter, who has been slapped with a 90-day ban by Fifa's Ethics Committee.
Cameroon's Issa Hayatou (left, in a 2012 picture) will now serve as the acting president of Fifa, replacing Sepp Blatter, who has been slapped with a 90-day ban by Fifa's Ethics Committee.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

ZURICH • World football chief Sepp Blatter and European boss Michel Platini were both suspended yesterday in an ever-deepening corruption scandal, decapitating the leadership of the sport as it faces criminal investigations on both sides of the Atlantic.

Blatter was due to stand down after an election for his replacement in February but this move essentially ends his 17-year reign.

But Platini, head of European body Uefa, was a frontrunner to replace him and his shrinking election hopes now depend on whether he can overturn the 90-day ban imposed by Fifa's ethics committee.

"During this time, the above individuals are banned from all football activities on a national and international level," the committee said.

Fifa said Blatter was not allowed to represent it in any capacity, and his acting replacement would be Issa Hayatou of Cameroon.

Fifa also handed out a 90-day suspension to secretary-general Jerome Valcke, who had already been sent on leave after he was accused of being part of a scheme to sell 2014 World Cup tickets at a marked-up price.

All the three officials have denied any wrongdoing.

South Korea's former Fifa vice-president and Fifa presidential candidate Chung Mong Joon was banned from the game for six years, a decision which will almost certainly end his already-slim electoral hopes.

Swiss and US authorities are both investigating corruption in world football, in long-running probes that burst into public view with dawn raids on a Swiss hotel in May.

All those banned yesterday can turn to Fifa's appeals committee to try to overturn the rulings but would remain suspended throughout any appeals process.

Blatter's lawyers said he was disappointed he had been suspended without having the chance to be heard. They added he was looking forward to presenting evidence that would prove he did not engage in any misconduct.

Platini said he submitted his nomination papers for the election to succeed Blatter before he was suspended. Shortly before his ban was announced, he indicated he intended to fight the ruling.

"I will stop at nothing to ensure that the truth is known," the Frenchman said in a statement.

"Nobody should be in any doubt as to my determination to achieve that objective."

If Platini is not able to overturn his ban and get into the election race, it would leave Prince Ali Al Hussein of Jordan as the clear favourite, unless other candidates now emerge.

The statement from the ethics committee did not provide details of any offence committed by Blatter and Platini.

While it is not allowed to discuss any probes, the investigation is almost certainly looking into a payment of two million Swiss francs (S$2.9 million) from Fifa to Platini in 2011, nine years after he worked for Blatter as an adviser.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 09, 2015, with the headline 'Blatter, Platini banned by ethics body'. Print Edition | Subscribe