The net appears to have closed in on Sepp Blatter after a a 90-day suspension of the FIFA president was recommended to judge Hans-Joachim Eckert by the investigatory chamber of the ethics committee. Reportedly a similar suspension was also proposed for Michel Platini, the French president of European federatiom UEFA.
Eckert was expected to deliver his own verdict in the morning. The decision must then be communicated, under the terms of FIFA Code of Ethics by formal letter or fax. Eckert can also decide the scope of a suspension which would settle the issue of whether Blatter is even allowed back into FIFA’s headquarters.
A 90-day suspension can be ‘topped up’ by a further 45 days. In any case a 90-day ban would debar Blatter from chairing the crucial executive committee meeting set for early in December in which a decision must be made on the agenda for the extraordinary elective congress on February 26 which is due to choose his successor.
Also now in question is whether it is possible to pursue the reform proposals work which Blatter had set under way or whether it wil have to put on hold pending the election of a president possessing the authority and credibility to revive what is an essential task for the sake of both the organisation and a leaderless game.
The ethics committee had been summoned to meet in barely-hidden secrecy this week to assess the questions hanging over Blatter, Platini and other senior football figures including South Korean Chong Mong-joon.
Eckert’s room for manoeuvre appears to be minimal with Blatter the subject of a Swiss criminal investigation over alleged mismanagement. This included an under-valed TV rights sale and a ‘disloyal payment’ to Platini for work which the Frenchman claims was undertaken appropriately for FIFA between 1999 and 2002.
Chung is, like Platini, a contender to succeed Blatter as president at an extraordinary congress next February 26. The South Korean, by his own admission, risks a 15-year ban for his activities in the contentious 2018-2022 World Cup bidding process.
Reports that Blatter and Platini would face investigation emerged soon after the pair were ambushed for questioning by Swiss police after a FIFA executive committee meeting two weeks ago.
Confirmation of an ‘all-stations’ summons to members of the ethics committee came from reports in Senegal concerning the travel plans of the former Sports Minister, Abdoulaye Makhtar Diop, who is an ethics committee member.
Speculation that the investigatory chamber of the ethics committee had recommended Blatter’s suspension were confirmed by his adviser, Klaus Stohlker but a spokesmen for the discipinary body insisted it was debarred from any comment on ongoing investigations.
With Blatter suspended then Issa Hayatou, FIFA’s senior vice-president and head of the African confederation, should take over as interim president. Hayatou was once reprimanded by the International Olympic Committee for accepting illicit funds from ISL, the bankrupted former marketing partner of both FIFA and the IOC.