Saturday 24 February 2018

The end is nigh for FIFA president Sepp Blatter as he faces a 90-day suspension

Sepp Blatter is under pressure to step down immediately
Sepp Blatter is under pressure to step down immediately

Martyn Ziegler

Sepp Blatter has been told he is facing a 90-day provisional suspension from FIFA's ethics committee - a move which would finally spell the end of his time as FIFA president.

FIFA's ethics committee has been meeting this week to discuss whether Blatter and Michel Platini should be provisionally suspended. It is understood the investigatory arm has recommended a 90-day suspension for Blatter but that the German adjudicatory judge Joachim Eckert has yet to make a final decision.

Klaus Stohlker, a friend and adviser to Blatter, told The Guardian: "What we know is that President Blatter was told he could be suspended for 90 days."

The pair are being investigated by Swiss prosecutors and the ethics committee over a 2million Swiss franc (£1.35million) payment signed off by FIFA president Blatter to UEFA president Platini.

Blatter has had criminal proceedings opened against him by the Swiss attorney general over the case and for allegedly selling World Cup TV rights to former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner for 20 times below their true value.

It is not known if any action has been recommended against Platini.

Stohlker said Blatter was still "on this throne" for the time being.

He added: "President Blatter has not flown away from his throne but is still in power. It's a very difficult situation. It's not good for global football.

"The first floor [investigatory chamber] has taken the decision today - they have taken the decision. That's why the second [adjudicatory chamber] needs to take the decision.

"He is quiet, he is reluctant, he is fully prepared to take his responsibilities. He is the only one who can lead FIFA. The picture for 90 days is not pleasant."

The payment to Platini being investigated was made in February 2011 for work he carried out as Blatter's technical advisor more than nine years previously, between 1999 and 2002.

Senegal's former sports minister Abdoulaye Diop, a member of the ethics committee, told his country's state news agency APS that the cases of Blatter, Platini and FIFA presidential hopeful Chung Mong-Joon would be dealt with this week - the meetings are due to last until Friday.

Meanwhile, UEFA's head of communications said Platini does not feel the need to publicly justify his £1.35million payment from FIFA despite questions being raised about the nine-year delay in receiving the money.

Platini has not publicly explained the reason for such a lengthy delay beyond that when he started his role as Blatter's advisor in 1999 he was told "that it was not initially possible to pay the totality of my salary because of FIFA's financial situation at that time".

Platini says he is still determined to run for the FIFA presidency and has provided all the necessary information to the investigating authorities.

UEFA's head of communications Pedro Pinto, speaking in London at the Leaders in Sport business summit, said: "The president currently feels that he has given satisfactory explanations to the authorities that are dealing with this case.

"Publicly, he feels there is nothing else to add because he feels he has does nothing wrong and therefore does not need to justify himself publicly at the moment."

Nominations for the FIFA presidency needed to be submitted by October 26 with each candidate nominated by at least five national associations.

Franco Carraro, the Italian who was the former chairman of FIFA's internal audit committee, said he could not recall seeing any paperwork about the payment to Platini and said the nine-year delay was "abnormal"

Carraro told La Repubblica: "I was the person checking the accounts, but I do not remember seeing an item of expenditure in favour of Platini for his consultancy.

"And the timing of the payment, being nine years late, is objectively abnormal."

Press Association

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