KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- The net appears to have closed in on Sepp Blatter ahead of a decision this morning on the recommendation of a a 90-day suspension of the FIFA president to judge Hans-Joachim Eckert from the investigatory chamber of the ethics committee.
A similar suspension was also thought to have been proposed for Michel Platini, the French president of European federation UEFA. Both men having denied wrongdoing.
Eckert, who left yesterday’s session early because of bronchitis, must communicate his decision , under the terms of FIFA Code of Ethics by formal letter or fax. He must also decide the scope of a suspension which would settle the issue of whether Blatter is even allowed back into FIFA’s headquarters or Platini into UEFA’s offices at Nyon near Geneva.
A 90-day suspension can be ‘topped up’ by a further 45 days. In any case a 90-day ban would debar Blatter from chairing the crucial executive committee meeting set for early in December in which a decision must be made on the agenda for the extraordinary elective congress on February 26 which is due to choose his successor.
Also now in question is whether it is possible to pursue the reform proposals work which Blatter had set under way or whether it wil have to put on hold pending the election of a president possessing the authority and credibility to revive what is an essential task for the sake of both the organisation and a leaderless game.
As for Platini, a suspension would threaten an end to his bid to take over the FIFA presidency since candidatures have to be confirmed no later than October 26 i.e. in 18 days’ time.
However he had heard nothing formal yesterday night and his spokesman, Pedro Pinto, said Platini believed he could justfy all his actions.
Pinto sid: “The president currently feels 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.”
The ethics committee had been summoned to meet in barely-hidden secrecy at the start of this week to assess the questions hanging over Blatter, Platini and other senior football figures including South Korean Chung Mong-joon.
Chung is, like Platini, a contender to succeed Blatter as president at an extraordinary congress next February 26. The South Korean, by his own admission, risks a 15-year ban for his activities in the contentious 2018-2022 World Cup bidding process.
Reports that Blatter and Platini would face investigation emerged soon after the pair were ambushed for questioning by Swiss police after a FIFA executive committee meeting two weeks ago.
Confirmation of an ‘all-stations’ summons to members of the ethics committee came originally from reports in Senegal concerning the travel plans of the former Sports Minister, Abdoulaye Makhtar Diop, who is an ethics committee member.
Speculation that the investigatory chamber of the ethics committee had recommended Blatter’s suspension were confirmed last evening by his adviser, Klaus Stohlker, though a spokesmen for the body itself insisted it was debarred from any comment on ongoing investigations.
Stohlker said: “Blatter has heard [about the suspension] from several sources. He has not got any message from the committee … and he is perfectly under control. He is going to the office tomorrow.”
If Blatter were suspended then Issa Hayatou, FIFA’s senior vice-president and head of the African confederation, should take over as interim president. Hayatou was once reprimanded by the International Olympic Committee for accepting illicit funds from ISL, the bankrupted former marketing partner of both FIFA and the IOC.
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