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Fifa: Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini & Jerome Valcke suspended

The Telegraph

Fifa: Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini & Jerome Valcke suspended

Fifa has provisionally suspended its president Sepp Blatter, secretary general Jerome Valcke and vice-president Michel Platini for 90 days.

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 its current president 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.

The Football Association, which last week reiterated its support for Platini’s presidency bid, said it would “await the results” of Fifa’s inquiry and the Swiss investigation, with chairman Greg Dyke said the organisation would withdraw its support if Platini is found to have “behaved dishonestly”.

Richard Conway, BBC Radio 5 live sports news correspondent

“The crisis has extended to the heart of Fifa’s leadership. Sepp Blatter, the man who has led Fifa since 1998 and has been at the centre of Fifa politics, is now facing suspension because of the criminal inquiry that was opened by Swiss authorities two weeks ago.
“Many had put Fifa’s future in the hands of Michel Platini and saw him as a figure to lead Fifa out of the crisis. He now has a big problem because he too has been suspended. He has confirmed that he has put in his application for the presidency but can he run?
“Many are hoping this is the cathartic moment Fifa needs to go through so it can emerge with its credibility restored – but that looks a long way in the future.”

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.”

Chung said he was not surprised by his ban, but described it “as a most blatant miscarriage of justice”, adding that Fifa was “in total meltdown” and the investigation against him was “politically motivated” against his presidential campaign.

Fifa’s ethics committee began its investigation into Blatter after the Swiss attorney 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.

Mark Palios, former FA chief executive on BBC News

“There are two aspects for Platini. Firstly, the deadline of 26 October to put in your nomination for the Fifa presidential election – I would imagine that causes some difficulties.
“Then there’s the extent to which anybody who has been suspended can stand as president of Fifa. Platini’s argument would be that nothing has been proven yet.
“It looks like this is the logical and right thing to do by Fifa to suspend individuals while an investigation into them is under way. I would be disappointed if they pushed the election back.”

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 leading candidates 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.”

More on Fifa’s corruption crisis

Key questions answered Profile: Sepp Blatter
Who are the indicted Fifa officials? Profile: Michel Platini

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.

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”.

Source: BBC

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