FIFA has cast Sepp Blatter and two of his former right-hand men out of the house he helped build.
FIFA suspended Blatter, its president, Michel Platini, a vice president, and Jerome Valcke, its secretary-general, from all soccer activities for 90 days on Thursday, according to its website. FIFA’s Ethics Committee took action in the aftermath of the Switzerland attorney general’s opening last month of a criminal investigation into alleged activities of its embattled longtime president.
Blatter had hoped to remain at the helm of FIFA until its congress elects a new president Feb. 26, but the suspension effectively ends his 17-plus-year reign and 40-plus years of involvement with world soccer’s governing body.
Richard Cullen, Blatter’s lawyer, blasted the Ethics Committee’s decision to suspend his client based on allegations instead of proven facts.
“The attorney general in Switzerland … opened an investigation but brought no charge against the president,” Cullen said in a statement, according to The Associated Press. “In fact, the prosecutors will be obliged by law to dismiss the case if their investigation, barely two weeks old, does not establish sufficient evidence.
“President Blatter looks forward to the opportunity to present evidence that will demonstrate that he did not engage in any misconduct, criminal or otherwise.”
Issa Hayatou now has assumed Blatter’s presidential duties.
FIFA also banned former vice president and current presidential candidate Chung Mong-joon for six years for violating rules during the bidding process to award the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups.
Thumbnail photo via Walter Bieri/Keystone/The Associated Press