Thursday, 8 October 2015

Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini Suspended By FIFA For 90 Days Over...

Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini Suspended By FIFA For 90 Days Over £1.35m Payment From President To UEFA Chief 

Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini have both been provisionally banned for 90 days from any football-related activity in a ruling that throws world football into total meltdown.

FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke has also been banned for 90 days meaning the three most powerful men in world football are now all provisionally suspended while investigations by FIFA's ethics committee continue.

The ban will effectively end outgoing FIFA president Blatter's ambitions to stay on until February, while UEFA president Platini's hopes of succeeding him lie in tatters.



FIFA PRESIDENT BLATTER AND UEFA CHIEF PLATINI ISSUE STATEMENTS

Sepp Blatter statement
Blatter's lawyers issued a statement claiming the ethics committee should have allowed him to be heard.

The statement said: 'President Blatter was disappointed that the ethics committee did not follow the code of ethics and disciplinary code, both of which provide for an opportunity to be heard. Further, the ethics committee based its decision on a misunderstanding of the actions of the Attorney General in Switzerland, which has opened an investigation but brought no charge against the president.

'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.'

Michel Platini statement
UEFA president Platini claimed the fact that news of the impending ban was leaked on Wednesday was an attempt to damage his reputation.

'It was reported last night that the investigatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee intends to recommend to its adjudicatory chamber that I be given a 90-day suspension,' read a statement before the decision was confirmed.

'This deliberate leak – which is insidious in nature and has come about in an unacceptable manner – is essentially an attempt to damage my reputation. Over the last few weeks, I have stressed my willingness to cooperate fully with the authorities carrying out the various enquiries in compliance with the strictest procedural rules. FIFA, on the other hand, has clearly flouted those rules.

'I have always acted and expressed myself with honesty, courage and candour, as I feel that this is my moral duty. If what is being reported regarding the intentions of the investigatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee is indeed true, I will stop at nothing to ensure that the truth is known. Nobody should be in any doubt as to my determination to achieve that objective.'

Platini had been the favourite to succeed 79-year-old Blatter but the ban prevents all three men from being involved in any football-related activity for the next three months while investigations continue. The 90-day suspension can also be extended by a further 45 days, taking it up until just six days before the FIFA presidential election is due on February 26.

The ethics committee also announced that another FIFA presidential candidate Chung Mong-joon from Korea has been banned for six years and fined 100,000 Swiss francs for breaking rules during the 2022 World Cup bid campaign.

This follows an inquiry into the £1.35million payment Platini received in 2011 for consultancy work for Blatter nine years earlier, a time lag which he has yet to explain.


Blatter is also being investigated for selling World Cup TV rights to his FIFA colleague Jack Warner at a knock-down price that later netted the Trinidadian an £11m profit.

A statement from FIFA's ethics committee said: 'The adjudicatory chamber of the Ethics Committee chaired by Hans Joachim Eckert has provisionally banned FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, UEFA President and FIFA Vice-President Michel Platini, and FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke (who has already been put on leave by his employer FIFA) for a duration of 90 days.

'The duration of the bans may be extended for an additional period not exceeding 45 days. The former FIFA Vice-President Chung Mong-joon has been banned for six years and fined CHF 100,000. During this time, the above individuals are banned from all football activities on a national and international level. The bans come into force immediately.

'The grounds for these decisions are the investigations that are being carried out by the investigatory chamber of the Ethics Committee. The chairman of the chamber is Dr Cornel Borbély. The investigation into Joseph S. Blatter is being carried out by Robert Torres, the investigation into Michel Platini by Vanessa Allard.

'The proceedings against the South Korean football official Chung Mong-joon were opened in January 2015 based on findings in the report on the investigation into the bidding process for the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cups.

'He has been found guilty of infringing article 13 (General rules of conduct), article 16 (Confidentiality), article 18 (Duty of disclosure, cooperation and reporting), article 41 (Obligation of the parties to collaborate) and article 42 (General obligation to collaborate) of the FIFA Code of Ethics. The Ethics Committee is unable to comment on the details of the decisions until they become final, due to the provisions of article 36 (Confidentiality) of the FIFA Code of Ethics.'

Blatter and Platini can appeal to FIFA's appeals committee but will still be suspended until they are heard. Valcke had already been suspended by FIFA after allegations he was implicated in a World Cup tickets scheme.

FIFA vice president David Gill and fellow executive committee member Wolfgang Niersbach have called for an emergency meeting of FIFA's ruling body to be held.

According to a statement from the English Football Association, of which Gill is vice chairman, the FA says 'there will be a meeting of the 54 UEFA nations as soon as next week.'

The FA was one of the first federations to endorse Michel Platini's candidacy for FIFA president, and the English are not withdrawing that backing yet.

'At the FA board meeting last week, we decided that remained our position while inquiries into certain allegations were being investigated,' the FA said. 'We now await the results of both the ethics committee inquiry and the investigation of the Swiss attorney general.'

But International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach has declared 'enough is enough' over the FIFA scandal and demanded that football's world governing body considers a 'credible external candidate' as president to help clean up the mess.

The IOC president said in a statement: 'Enough is enough. We hope that now, finally, everyone at FIFA has at last understood that they cannot continue to remain passive. They must act swiftly to regain credibility because you cannot forever dissociate the credibility of FIFA from the credibility of football.'

Issa Hayatou, boss of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), will serve as acting president of FIFA.

In 2011, Hayatou was reprimanded by the International Olympics Committee's ethics commission after he confirmed to them that he was paid by FIFA's former marketing agency International Sport and Leisure in 1995.

The IOC said such an action constituted a conflict of interest. Hayatou denied any personal gain or wrongdoing.

After it was confirmed he would serve as acting president, Hayatou released a statement: 'Today, amid extraordinary circumstances, I have assumed the office of FIFA President pursuant to Article 32 (6) of the FIFA Statutes.

'I will serve only on an interim basis. A new President will be chosen by the Extraordinary Congress on 26 February 2016. I myself will not be a candidate for that position.'

And Spain's Angel Villar Llona will takeover from Platini at UEFA where there must be strong doubts the French former football great can return.

Spanish Football Federation president Villar is positioned to take over from Platini as he is the European governing body's highest-ranking vice-president.

Villar has been widely reported to be facing a FIFA ethics investigation himself related to Spain's joint bid with Portugal for the 2018 World Cup. FIFA's ethics committee is not allowed to confirm or deny the existence of any investigations.

Earlier on Thursday, UEFA president Platini claimed the fact that news of the impending ban was leaked on Wednesday was an attempt to damage his reputation.

'It was reported last night that the investigatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee intends to recommend to its adjudicatory chamber that I be given a 90-day suspension,' read a statement.

'This is clearly an extremely serious matter – all the more so given that this information appears to have come from an official FIFA source, despite the fact that the Ethics Committee, which is supposed to act with full independence, has not yet issued its decision.


WHAT FIFA'S ETHICS COMMITTEE RULES STATE
FIFA's ethics committee rules state the maximum 90-day provisional suspension can be extended for a further 45 days.

That would see the provisional suspension end on February 20 - only six days before the election of Blatter's successor is due to take place - meaning a disciplinary hearing would have to take place before that time.

The pair can appeal against the suspension to FIFA's appeals committee within two days of being notified of the decision but they will remain suspended at least until the appeal is held.

Blatter's lawyers had claimed they would expect the 'ethics committee would want to hear from the president and his counsel, and conduct a thorough review of the evidence, before making any recommendation to take disciplinary action'.

That does not need to be the case for a provisional suspension however.

FIFA ethics rules state: 'The chairman of the adjudicatory chamber may make his decision on the basis of the case files available to him, without hearing the parties, in which case the parties shall be summoned to a hearing or invited to submit written statements after the decision has been issued.

'After hearing the parties, the chairman of the adjudicatory chamber shall confirm, revoke or amend his decision.'

'This deliberate leak – which is insidious in nature and has come about in an unacceptable manner – is essentially an attempt to damage my reputation. Over the last few weeks, I have stressed my willingness to cooperate fully with the authorities carrying out the various enquiries in compliance with the strictest procedural rules. FIFA, on the other hand, has clearly flouted those rules.

'I have always acted and expressed myself with honesty, courage and candour, as I feel that this is my moral duty. If what is being reported regarding the intentions of the investigatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee is indeed true, I will stop at nothing to ensure that the truth is known. Nobody should be in any doubt as to my determination to achieve that objective.

'In the meantime, a dispassionate, independent and impartial judicial body needs to shine a light on the events that led the FIFA Ethics Committee to open these investigatory proceedings.

'This morning I submitted the letters of support that are required in order to stand as a candidate for the presidency of FIFA. As I have always done since 2007, I will fulfil my obligations after consulting UEFA's 54 member associations, which I will ask to convene shortly in Nyon. I will also meet with all the other confederations and FIFA's member associations in the spirit of openness that has always characterised my actions.

'I am certain that we will overcome this difficulty with full transparency and the unity that gives football its strength.'

On Thursday morning Platini submitted the letters of nomination from supporting associations to FIFA but his hopes of running for president appeared to have been dashed.