FIFA Suspends President Sepp Blatter And Other Top Officials
Updated 6:02 p.m. ET
On Thursday morning, the ethics committee of soccer's world governing body banned the group's president and other leaders for 90 days, citing ongoing investigations into allegations against FIFA President Sepp Blatter, UEFA President and FIFA Vice President Michel Platini and FIFA Secretary-General Jérôme Valcke.
The suspensions go into effect immediately and could be extended by 45 days, FIFA says.
When news of the pending suspension emerged Wednesday, Blatter's adviser said: "He is calm. Remember he is the father of the ethics committee."
By Thursday evening, Blatter had appealed the decision. The New York Times reports:
"Mr. Blatter's legal team demands the opportunity to see the case file the ethics committee reviewed during its proceedings — a request that reflects a belief that the ethics committee's decision was based almost entirely on the fact that the Swiss attorney general's office has recently opened an investigation into Mr. Blatter."
FIFA is now being led on an interim basis by Issa Hayatou of Cameroon, a former athlete who ran against Blatter for the presidency in 2002. Hayatou won't be running in next year's contest.
"A new president will be chosen by the Extraordinary Congress on 26 February 2016," he said Thursday. "I myself will not be a candidate for that position."
We'll note that with the 90-day ban and possible 45-day extension, it's possible that Blatter and the other officials won't return to office before the February election.
Blatter and Platini have been the subject of allegations of an improper $2 million payment from FIFA's leader to Platini, who leads Europe's soccer organization.
The organization that has been wracked by criminal charges of corruption by top officials also says it banned former FIFA Vice President Chung Mong-joon of South Korea for six years, and that it imposed a fine, citing misconduct.
That punishment stems from an inquiry into the bidding process for hosting FIFA's World Cup tournaments in 2018 and 2022 — a process that U.S. and Swiss investigators have previously described as including millions of dollars in bribes.
The ban upends Chung's campaign to replace Blatter as FIFA's president. As word of a pending ban spread Wednesday, the billionaire businessman said he was the target of a smear campaign orchestrated by Blatter.
At that news conference, Chung also said he's suing Blatter for $100 million over what he says is embezzlement and irregularities at FIFA.
"Mr. Blatter, in short, is a hypocrite and a liar," Chung said.
He later added, "The fact that I am the target of Mr. Blatter's smear campaign is clearly the most powerful endorsement for my candidacy, and the best proof that I am the person to lead FIFA's reforms."
Thursday's punishments come two weeks after Swiss officials announced they had begun criminal proceedings against Blatter.
FIFA says it won't provide details about the decisions "until they become final," which is so FIFA.
Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.