Fifa ethics committee officials have dismissed the suggestion that they do not have the authority to remove Sepp Blatter from his position – and reject claims that he has not yet received the report detailing the investigation into him.
Blatter’s spokesman Klaus Stoehlker was quoted as saying yesterday that the Fifa president had yet to be informed of what sanction was being recommended and that he was “deeply surprised” to learn of the lifetime ban reportedly recommended for Michel Platini over the SFr 2 million payment made to him from FIFA in 2011 that was signed off by Blatter.
Blatter, it has been reported, faces similar charges to Platini and if found guilty, would force an ignominious exit from the sport he has presided over since 1998. Stoehlker also said the 79-year-old was now considering bypassing the head of German ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, who will announce his verdicts next month.
“Mr Blatter was elected by the Fifa congress and only the congress can remove his power,” Stoehlker said.
Ethics officials have dismissed this notion, insisting there is no exemption for the president.
“Everybody is covered by the same code of ethics and by the statutes, there is no exemption for anyone whatsoever from this rule,” a spokesman for the investigatory side of the ethics committee told Insideworldfootball.
Eckert’s office also confirmed that Blatter’s representatives were notified on Monday that formal proceedings had been opened.
“The legal teams of both Mr. Blatter and Mr. Platini were notified of the opening of the adjudicatory proceedings against them on Monday, November 23,” said a statement to Insideworldfootball. “The notification included the final reports and the request for sanctions as they had been submitted to Mr. Eckert by the investigatory chamber.
“Nobody contested that the senior Vice President became acting president,” said one high-profile source. “According to Blatter’s logic that would not be possible, but it happened. Hayatou became acting president as per the statutes and not one member association opposed it.”
Meanwhile, Blatter has complained that he has become the target of “an inquisition” by the ethics committee.
Speaking to the Zurich-based Sportinformation news service, Blatter portrayed himself as the victim in the saga.
“As a good Christian, I have to say that what the ethics commission is doing with me, it’s like an inquisition,” he said. “It’s not me who has to prove my innocence.”
He claimed he deserved an honourable exit from FIFA, because, he said, “I am not a bad man.”