The FIFA Ethics Committee announced the suspension of President Sepp Blatter for 90 days Thursday, in what is the latest twist to the unfolding corruption scandal embroiling FIFA.
UEFA President and FIFA Vice-President Michel Platini and FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke received similar bans, while FIFA presidential hopeful Chung Mong-joon has been banned for six years.
The full statement, as published on FIFA's website, reads:
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 Jérôme 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.
A later statement Thursday said Blatter had been relieved of his duties, and that the ban applied to "all football activities on a national and international level."
Blatter's interim replacement is Issa Hayatou, the longest-serving vice president on FIFA’s Executive Committee and the longtime president of the Confederation of African Football. The Cameroonian becomes FIFA's first African president.
Hayatou confirmed he would not be a candidate in FIFA's February 2016 presidential election, AP reported.
The suspensions come as the Swiss attorney general pursues a criminal investigation against Blatter on “suspicion of criminal mismanagement” and “misappropriation,” according to a release.
The Swiss investigators accused Blatter of giving “a disloyal payment” of 2 million Swiss francs to Platini in February 2011.
Responding to the committee's decision, Blatter's lawyer criticized the ethics committee, saying it "did not follow the Code of Ethics and Disciplinary Code," the Daily Telegraph reported.
The letter from Blatter's lawyer argued the committee based their decision "on a misunderstanding of the actions of the Attorney General in Switzerland, which has opened an investigation but brought no charge."
The suspension of Chung — a South Korean multimillionaire who, like Platini, is seeking the FIFA presidency in February — is linked to alleged vote-trading in the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Chung claimed Tuesday that he was the subject of a "smear campaign" by Blatter, AFP reported.
General Secretary Valcke was put on leave and relieved of his duties last month after FIFA released a statement saying it had "been made aware of a series of allegations" involving him.
Reports surfaced in September that Valcke may have been implicated in a scheme to sell World Cup tickets for above face value, which he denies, The Guardian reported.
Blatter and Platini have also denied any wrongdoing. Blatter said in a statement through his attorney in September that the payments were “properly prepared and negotiated by the appropriate staff members of FIFA.”
As part of the same proceeding, the office is also reviewing a contract Blatter signed with Jack Warner, a former FIFA vice president who has been indicted by U.S. prosecutors on charges of racketeering and bribery.
In May, Warner was indicted in a New York federal court along with 13 other FIFA and other corporate executives on corruption charges following an investigation led by the FBI.
The same FIFA Ethics Committee that suspended Blatter has issued a lifetime ban against Warner.
FIFA itself came under investigation by the Swiss attorney general’s office in May over potentially corrupt World Cup 2018 and 2022 bids.
The FBI also said in June it would begin an investigation into potential bribes related to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting rights awards.
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