Fifa: Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini & Jerome Valcke suspended

The punishments were handed out by the ethics committee of football’s world governing body, which is investigating the three over corruption allegations.

It also banned ex-Fifa vice-president Chung Mong-joon for six years.

Issa Hayatou, who heads Africa’s football confederation (Caf), will act as Fifa president during Blatter’s ban.

Spain’s Angel Maria Villar is expected to head Uefa – European football’s governing body – while Platini is suspended.

But Platini – and Chung – are still hoping to replace Blatter when he steps down as president in February.

Hayatou, meanwhile, has issued a statement saying he will only serve on an interim basis and will not be standing for election.

Explaining its decision to ban Blatter, Platini and Valcke, the ethics committee said: “The grounds for these decisions are the investigations that are being carried out by the investigatory chamber of the ethics committee.”

The three are banned from any football activity in the interim. They deny any wrongdoing.

Britain’s Fifa vice-president David Gill has called for an emergency meeting of its executive committee following Thursday’s developments.

A statement issued by Blatter’s lawyers said the president was “disappointed” the ethics committee had not followed its own code in allowing him an opportunity to be heard, and claimed the suspension was based on “a misunderstanding of the actions of the attorney general in Switzerland”.

It added: “President Blatter looks forward to the opportunity to present evidence that will demonstrate that he did not engage in any misconduct, criminal or otherwise.”

Fifa’s ethics committee began its investigation into Blatter after the Swissattorney general opened criminal proceedings against the 79-year-old.

He is accused of signing a contract “unfavourable” to Fifa and making a “disloyal payment” to Platini, who is also president of European football’s governing body – Uefa.

The ethics committee also opened an inquiry into Platini over the 2m euros (£1.35m) payment, which was made nine years after the 60-year-old carried out consultation work for Blatter.

Valcke was already on gardening leave from his Fifa post following newspaper allegations last month which implicated the 54-year-old in a scheme to profit from the sale of World Cup tickets.

Earlier this year, United States authorities indicted 14 Fifa officials and associates on bribery and racketeering charges. A simultaneous Swiss investigation was started into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Just two days later, on 29 May, Blatter won a fifth consecutive Fifa presidential election. However, on 2 June he announced his decision to step down in the wake of the corruption allegations.

He is due to finish his term at a Fifa extraordinary congress on 26 February.

Platini and South Korean billionaire Chung – who was also fined 100,000 Swiss Francs (£67,000) by the ethics committee – are two of the leadingcandidates to replace him.

Before the imposition of his provisional ban – which relates to the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups – Chung claimed Fifa’s investigation into him was an attempt to “smear” his campaign.

Reports that the provisional bans for Blatter and Platini were to be handed down emerged late on Wednesday.

On Thursday, former France international footballer Platini issued a statement questioning how the information had been made public.

“This is clearly an extremely serious matter,” he said. “This information appears to have come from an official Fifa source.

“This deliberate leak – which is insidious in nature and has come about in an unacceptable manner – is essentially an attempt to damage my reputation.”

Platini added he was co-operating with the various authorities – and intended to continue standing for the Fifa presidency.

“I have always acted and expressed myself with honesty, courage and candour, as I feel that this is my moral duty,” he added.

“I am certain that we will overcome this difficulty with full transparency and the unity that gives football its strength.”

However, his ban – which can be appealed against, or even extended – means he will not be able to attend the Euro 2016 draw in Paris on 12 December.

The Football Association, which last week reiterated its support for Platini’s presidency bid, has stopped short of changing its position. A spokesman said: “We now await the results of both the ethics committee inquiry and the investigation of the Swiss attorney general. We note that Mr Platini has issued a strong statement protesting his innocence.”

Valcke’s lawyer also said that his client was “confident” that he will be fully cleared of the “false allegations” when “all the facts come out”.





 

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