Suspended Fifa chief Blatter in hospital: Lawyer

Blatter is undergoing stress-related health checks but is not in hospital.
Blatter is undergoing stress-related health checks but is not in hospital.REUTERS

MIAMI (REUTERS) - Suspended Fifa president Sepp Blatter, his federation mired in a corruption crisis, is in hospital for medical checks but should be discharged soon, his US lawyer said on Friday.

His former public relations officer, Klaus Stoehlker, said the 79-year-old Swiss, who was last month suspended for 90 days by the ethics committee of soccer’s world governing body, was under “tremendous pressure from so many sides”.

He said he was suffering stress but was at home.

Later, however, Blatter’s US based lawyer Richard Cullen issued a statement saying: “Because there have been media inquiries, I am announcing that President Blatter is in the hospital for a medical check-up. He is fine and expects to be home shortly.

Fifa, which is based in Zurich, has been in turmoil since 14 soccer officials and sports marketing executives, including two Fifa vice-presidents, were indicted by the United States in May.

Since then, Swiss authorities have opened their own investigation into Fifa’s activities, and the Ethics Committee has suspended both Blatter and Michel Platini, the president of the European governing body Uefa who had been favourite to replace him, for 90 days.

“He (Blatter) is under medical evaluation, the doctors took him out for a few days, the doctors expect to him be back (in circulation) around Thursday or Friday of next week,” said Stoehlker.

“He is under tremendous pressure from so many sides and perhaps this is a little bit difficult for a man who is not the youngest...I saw him this morning and he will recover.”

Blatter, who often impresses observers with his boundless energy, has been Fifa president since 1998.

He won a fifth mandate in May but, as pressure mounted, performed an about-turn four days later, announced he was stepping down and called a new Congress, which will take place in Zurich in February, to choose his successor.

In September, the Swiss attorney general’s office initiated criminal proceedings against Blatter over a 2 million Swiss franc (S$2.8 million) payment from Fifa to Platini in 2011 for work carried out by the Frenchman between 1998 and 2002.

Both men, who are suspended pending a full ethics committee investigation, have denied any wrongdoing. Blatter has said he still hopes to take part in the congress in February.