On the most sensational day yet in the FIFA scandal avalanche president Sepp Blatter, vice-president and UEFA chief Michel Platini and secretary-general Jerome Valcke have all been suspended for 90 days by the world federation’s ethics committee.

The decisive steps against effectively the most powerful three men in world football were signed off by German ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert this morning. Suspension recommendations had been submitted to him yesterday afternoon by the investigatory chamber of the ethics committee.

Valcke, FIFA’s French secretary-general, had already been ‘relieved of his duties’ last month by the organisation after allegations concerning his dealings with a World Cup tickets tout.

Also dealt with by the ethics judge was the South Korean former FIFA vice-president Chung Mong-joon who was banned from all football for six years and fined for his activities during the scandal-ridden 2018-2022 World Cup bidding process.

Both Platini and Chung had intended to stand for election for the FIFA presidency set for next February 26 at which time Blatter had pledged to stand down.

All four men can appeal to the FIFA appeals committee and, if rejected, to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. All of these procedures take time.

Certainly Blatter’s legal team, a mixture of Swiss and United States lawyers, would doubtless seek to have the suspension set aside while he followed the appeals route. In that case he could continue to run the world federation as if nothing had happened.

In the meantime, according to FIFA statutes, the mantle of the interim presidency falls upon the senior vice-president Issa Hayatou, the Cameroonian leader of the African confederation.

He is not untainted himself, having once been reprimanded by the International Olympic Committee, of which he is also a member, of accepted an illicit payment from ISL, the bankrupt former marketing partner of both FIFA and ISL.

Platini’s suspension creates a leadership gap at the top of the European federation which, under its own rules, should be filled by Angel Maria Villar. The latter is long-serving head of the Spanish federation and also a vice-president of FIFA.

Ethics committee statement:

“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.”

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