Art And Culture

FIFA Suspends Blatter, Platini for 90 Days

FIFA Suspends Blatter, Platini for 90 Days
FIFA Suspends Blatter, Platini for 90 Days

Two of the most powerful men in soccer were handed 90-day suspensions by the FIFA ethics committee on Thursday, essentially ending Sepp Blatter’s 17-year reign as president and likely stunting Michel Platini’s chances of replacing him.

Both Blatter and Platini, former allies who turned into rivals in the buildup to the most recent FIFA presidential election, have become embroiled in a Swiss criminal investigation. Blatter has been labeled a suspect and questioned by authorities, while Platini was said to be somewhere between a witness and a suspect, ABC News reported.

“Blatter looks forward to the opportunity to present evidence that will demonstrate that he did not engage in any misconduct, criminal or otherwise,” his lawyer, Richard Cullen, said in a statement.

Platini also pledged to fight the decision, calling the allegations against him “astonishingly vague” in a statement sent from UEFA hours after the Frenchman was banned from working as the body’s president.

UEFA’s 54 member nations are due to meet in Nyon, Switzerland, next week to discuss the worst crisis in its history and the bid by Platini to succeed Blatter.

The 90-day suspensions for Blatter and Platini were imposed after the Swiss authorities started investigating a payment from FIFA to the former France midfield great in 2011 for work carried out at least nine years earlier.

Another presidential hopeful, Chung Mong-joon, was suspended for six years in a separate case and FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke was banned for 90 days.

Blatter’s suspension stops a career that began at FIFA in 1975 and includes the last 17 years as president. He had survived waves of scandals affecting close allies, but the corruption scandal engulfing FIFA severely escalated in May when seven officials were arrested in Zurich as part of an American bribery investigation.

At the same time, the Swiss authorities revealed their own probe into soccer corruption and a criminal case was opened against Blatter last month, when Swiss investigators turned up at his office at FIFA headquarters and interrogated him. The criminal case centers on Blatter allegedly misusing FIFA money by making a $2 million “disloyal payment” to Platini.