Sepp Blatter is facing the prospect of a humiliating end to his controversial reign as FIFA president after being told he has been recommended for a 90-day provisional suspension by FIFA’s ethics committee.
Klaus Stohlker, a friend and adviser to Blatter, said ethics investigators had recommended a 90-day suspension for Blatter but that the head of the adjudicatory chamber, German judge Joachim Eckert, has yet to make a final decision. FIFA’s ethics committee has been meeting this week to discuss whether Blatter and Michel Platini should be provisionally suspended.
Stohlker told Press Association Sport on Wednesday night: "I have spoken to Mr. Blatter three minutes ago. He is still the president, he is going into his office in FIFA tomorrow. These are times of trouble for him of course but he is feeling strong and confident.
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"There is no suspension active. President Blatter was told he could be suspended for 90 days. The first floor [investigatory chamber] has taken the decision today — they have taken the decision. That’s why the second [adjudicatory chamber] needs to take the decision. We do not know when that second decision will be taken."
Stohlker also told The Guardian: "President Blatter has not flown away from his throne but is still in power. It’s a very difficult situation. It’s not good for global football."
Blatter and Platini are being investigated by Swiss prosecutors and the ethics committee over $2 million payment signed off by FIFA president Blatter to UEFA president Platini. Blatter has had criminal proceedings opened against him by the Swiss attorney general over the case and for allegedly selling World Cup TV rights to former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner for 20 times below their true value.
Platini’s status was described by attorney general Michael Lauber as being between "a witness and an accused person." A provisional suspension of Platini by the ethics committee would throw the contest to succeed Blatter as FIFA president into chaos as the Frenchman was the favorite.
The Platini payment being investigated was made in February 2011 for work he carried out as Blatter’s technical advisor more than nine years previously between 1999 and 2002. Senegal’s former sports minister Abdoulaye Diop, a member of the ethics committee, told the country’s state news agency APS that the cases of Blatter, Platini and FIFA presidential hopeful Chung Mong-Joon would be dealt with this week — the meetings are due to last until Friday.
Meanwhile, UEFA’s head of communications said Platini does not feel the need to publicly justify his $2 million payment from FIFA despite questions being raised about the nine-year delay in receiving the money. Platini has not publicly explained the reason for such a lengthy delay beyond that when he started his role as Blatter’s advisor in 1999 he was told "that it was not initially possible to pay the totality of my salary because of FIFA’s financial situation at that time."
Platini says he is still determined to run for the FIFA president and has provided all the necessary information to the investigating authorities.
UEFA’s head of communications Pedro Pinto, speaking in London at the Leaders in Sport business summit, said: "The president currently feels that he has given satisfactory explanations to the authorities that are dealing with this case. Publicly, he feels there is nothing else to add because he feels he has does nothing wrong and therefore does not need to justify himself publicly at the moment."
Nominations for the FIFA presidency needed to be submitted by Oct. 26 with each candidate nominated by at least five national associations. Franco Carraro, the Italian who was the former chairman of FIFA’s internal audit committee, said he could not recall seeing any paperwork about the payment to Platini and said the nine-year delay was "abnormal."
Carraro told La Repubblica: "I was the person checking the accounts, but I do not remember seeing an item of expenditure in favor of Platini for his consultancy. And the timing of the payment, being nine years late, is objectively abnormal."