FIFA suspends Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini, Chung Mong-joon
FIFA has suspended president Sepp Blatter, secretary general Jerome Valcke and UEFA president Michel Platini for 90 days each, FIFA announced Thursday.
Chung Mong-joon, a former FIFA vice president and current presidential candidate, has been banned from the organization for six years and fined $103,206.
FIFA said in a press release that the decision to extend these provisional bans stemmed from ongoing investigations by the FIFA ethics committee. The bans go into effect immediately, and prevent the men from participating in all soccer activities on a national and international level, the press release said.
A 90-day suspension is the maximum the committee is allowed to levy, but it could be extended by another 45 days. If the bans were extended, they would end six days before the special election for FIFA president slated for Feb. 26. A disciplinary hearing would need to occur before that date.
Blatter and Platini plan to appeal their bans, reports Sam Borden of The New York Times, but the bans will remain in place until an appeal hearing is held.
Blatter’s lawyers released a statement Thursday saying the ethics committee did not follow procedure in handing down Blatter’s ban by failing to allow him a hearing. However, the FIFA code of ethics states that the committee chairman has the right to make decisions based on available evidence, and is not required to call a hearing.
Swiss authorities announced late last month that they were opening an investigation into Blatter for criminal mismanagement and misappropriation of FIFA money. Blatter is accused of intentionally mismanaging FIFA funds in order to make bribery payments, including a $2 million payment made to Platini in 2011.
Platini, who is considered one of the top candidates to replace Blatter as FIFA president, is either a witness or a suspect in the Blatter investigation, according to the Swiss attorney general.
Valcke has already been relieved of his official FIFA duties following allegations that he improperly handled World Cup ticket sales.
Chung was suspended because the ethics committee found him guilty of multiple violations of the FIFA code of ethics, which he committed during South Korea’s bid for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Chung said on Tuesday that he had expected to be banned for 19 years.
Chung, Platini and Prince Ali bin al-Hussein are the only three candidates who have declared to be running for the FIFA presidency.
Last week, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and a number of FIFA’s other sponsors called for Blatter to step down immediately. Blatter refused to resign and said he intended to remain president until the February election.
In wake of the suspensions, the interim president of FIFA will be Issa Hayatou, who is the head of African soccer. Hayatou was disciplined in 2011 for accepting a “conflict of interest payment,” reports Borden. Hayatou said Thursday that he will not enter the February special election, and that he will only serve on an interim basis.
The interim president of UEFA will be Angel Maria Villar, who is also under investigation by the ethics committee.
- Erin Flynn