In Brief

Michel Platini will resign at Uefa's next congress

Former player 'deeply disappointed' as he fails to overturn 'disloyal payment' punishment

Fifa scandal: can it continue to exist after Blatter and Platini?

9 October

Sepp Blatter is refusing to go quietly and has launched an appeal against his 90-day suspension by Fifa, the organisation he has led for 17 years and which is now in danger of imploding.

He and Michel Platini, the man earmarked to replace him as leader of football's embattled governing body, were barred from all football-related activity by Fifa's own ethics committee as a result of corruption allegations that are the subject of a Swiss criminal investigation. It revolves around a payment of £1.3m to Platini in 2011.

On a dark day for the organisation, Blatter's right-hand man Jerome Valcke was also suspended for 90 days over claims he was involved in a World Cup ticketing scam, and another of the candidates to replace Blatter, Chung Mong-joon of South Korea was banned from the game for six years after an investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

But the BBC reports that 79-year-old Blatter has already challenged the decision. "He has appealed already to Fifa's appeal committee. He is defending his position and he is sure that he will be found not guilty," said his friend Klaus Stohlker. Platini is also appealing.

The pair face the prospect of a life ban over the payment, warns the Daily Telegraph.

"During hours-long interviews with ethics investigators on November 1, neither man managed to produce any documentary evidence which would legitimise that transaction or the timing of it, despite their protestations that it was above board," reports the paper. Without documentary evidence both men are in "severe danger" of being banned for life.

The payment was supposedly made for work done by Platini between 1998 and 2002, but was paid to Platini in 2011, the year Blatter won his third term as Fifa president with Platini declining to stand against him.

With Fifa in such disarray the organisation is "now simply a shell", says Owen Gibson of The Guardian, "Fifa is effectively being run by a team from the US law firm Quinn Emanuel".

Cameroonian Issa Hayatou is technically steering the ship in the absence of Blatter and Valcke, he notes. But Hayatou is hardly a breath of fresh air. "[He] has been head of the African confederation since 1988 and in 2011 was censured over his role in the ISL bribery scandal [involving World Cup TV deals]... Campaigners say that simple fact is ample proof of why Fifa must change."

But it might be too late for that, says Paul Hayward of the Telegraph, and the latest developments could spell the end for football's governing body. "Fifa has ceased to exist in any moral or bureaucratic sense and needs to be taken over by the Swiss government like a corrupt bank," he argues.

"There are no solutions from within an organisation that had to be forced to confront its own venality," he says. Even the International Olympic Committee has declared that "enough is enough" when it comes to Fifa.

"A first step is for Swiss prosecutors to occupy Fifa House, declare it a crime scene and suspend it for a lot longer than 90 days," he says.

 

Blatter, Platini and Valcke all suspended by Fifa

08 October

Fifa has today confirmed that its president Sepp Blatter, the man expected to succeed him, Michel Platini, and Blatter’s right-hand man Jerom Valcke have all been provisionally suspended for 90 days amid allegations of corruption.

News of the bans for Blatter and Platini, who have been interviewed by the Swiss authorities as part of a criminal investigation, was leaked on Wednesday, while Valke's ban comes as no surprise as he was already on gardening leave following allegations involving World Cup ticket sales.

In a statement, Fifa said the bans had been imposed because of "investigations that are being carried out by the investigatory chamber of the ethics committee", it added that they could be extended for a further 45 days.

A fourth figure, South Korean Chung Mong-joon, a former Fifa vice-president, has been banned for six years following an investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Platini stands to suffer most and has claimed he is the victim of an "insidious... attempt to damage my reputation" and insisted that he would continue with his campaign to become president of Fifa.

However, former FA chief executive Mark Palios queried "the extent to which anybody who has been suspended can stand as president of Fifa".

He told the BBC: "It looks like this is the logical and right thing to do by Fifa to suspend individuals while an investigation into them is under way. I would be disappointed if they pushed the election back."

Blatter and Platini face Fifa bans as 'house of cards' collapses

8 October

A day after Sepp Blatter branded a Swiss criminal investigation against him "outrageous", he faces the humiliating prospect of being suspended from Fifa.

A 90-day suspension has been proposed by the organisation's ethics committee over allegations Blatter was involved in the mis-selling of World Cup TV rights and made a "disloyal payment" of £1.3m to Michel Platini in 2011.

The 79-year-old Swiss is due to leave office in February after deciding to stand down because of a widespread corruption scandal at Fifa. If the ban is approved, it will bring his presidency of football's governing body to a sorry end.

Platini, the man many hoped would succeed Blatter and repair Fifa's battered image could also be hit with a ban.

Both men have been interviewed in the past fortnight as part of the criminal investigation and deny any wrongdoing, reports The Times. It adds that the ban has been recommended by the Fifa ethics committee's investigatory chamber but is yet to be ratified by its adjudicatory chamber.

The ban would "effectively end Blatter’s 17-year reign and ruin Platini's challenge to replace him", says the Daily Telegraph.

Both men have been under "extreme pressure" since news of the investigation broke last month, reports The Guardian. "The move represents the latest stage in the slow motion collapse of the Fifa house of cards since US prosecutors sent the organisation spiralling into crisis in May."

Meanwhile another Fifa presidential candidate, South Korean Chung Mong-joon, has complained of attempts to force him out of the race to succeed Blatter and has threatened to sue to Swiss for "embezzlement".

Chung, a former Fifa executive committee member who is also under investigation from Fifa's ethics committee over the bidding process for the World Cups in 2018 and 2022, claims that Blatter was paid "without authorisation of the executive committee", which constitutes embezzlement.

Fifa corruption: Jack Warner banned for life from football

29 September

Four-and-a-half years after he quit Fifa to avoid a damaging investigation into claims of corruption, Jack Warner has finally been banned for life by football's governing body.

The 72-year-old Trinidadian has been a key figure in the various scandals to have engulfed Fifa in recent years. He was suspended in 2011 over accusations of bribery relating to a presidential election and it was also claimed he had received money from figures connected to Qatar's successful bid for the 2022 World Cup.

Warner was one of the senior officials arrested in May this year as part of an FBI investigation into "rampant, systemic and deep-rooted" corruption at the organisation. He is currently awaiting extradition to the US.

Fifa's decision to ban Warner came days after it emerged that Sepp Blatter faced a criminal investigation in Switzerland over a TV rights deal involving Warner, and the Trinidadian was quick to question the timing of his ban.

"I left the Fifa in April 2011 and if in September 2015 the Fifa wants to ban me for life without even a hearing then so be it," he said. "I do not believe, however, that this will serve as the distraction to Fifa’s present problems as Fifa wishes it to be."

Warner, a former Fifa vice-president and chairman of regional body Concacaf, was banned for committing "many and various acts of misconduct" said the body, which has changed its tune dramatically since 2011.

A probe into his activities was halted in 2011 when he stood down from the organisation. At the time he was given a warm send-off and Fifa insisted that because he had quit before the investigation into bribery claims then "the presumption of innocence is maintained".

Not so today, with Warner now described by Fifa as a "key player in schemes involving the offer, acceptance, and receipt of undisclosed and illegal payments, as well as other money-making schemes".

According to the Daily Telegraph, the ban is "merely symbolic for a man who had little prospect of returning to the game".

Fifa: Sepp Blatter faces criminal proceedings

25 September

The Swiss authorities have launched a criminal investigation into Fifa president Sepp Blatter in the latest development in the ongoing corruption scandal at football's governing body.

He was questioned by representatives of Swiss Attorney General on suspicion "of criminal mismanagement and misappropriation" on Friday.

According to the New York Times "the case involves a contract Blatter is said to have signed that assigned valuable World Cup television rights to the control of an indicted former Fifa official, Jack Warner".

The BBC claims that Warner, a former head of the Concacaf region, purchased the rights to future World Cups at a knock-down price from Fifa in 2005, and then sold them on at a huge profit. Details of the deal were published in the Daily Mirror earlier this month.

News of the investigation broke after Fifa mysteriously called off a press conference involving Blatter without explanation minutes before it was due to take place on Friday afternoon.

Blatter had been set to address the media after a two-day executive committee meeting and the cancellation added to "the sense of turmoil surrounding football's embattled governing body", said the Daily Mail, even before the reason behind it emerged.

Blatter was not the only high-profile figure caught up in the dramatic turn of events, as the Swiss authorities also revealed that Blatter was also suspected of "a disloyal payment of 2m Swiss Francs to Michel Platini". The statement said that payment to the Uefa president "was allegedly made for work performed between January 1999 and June 2002... [and] executed in February 2011."

According to The Guardian "Fifa HQ was also searched and data seized from Blatter's office". The move comes less than a week after Fifa handed over emails from Blatter's right-hand man Jerome Valcke, who was suspended earlier this month.

"As the net has closed around Blatter, who has refused to travel to any countries with an extradition treaty with the US since the scandal broke, he has cut an increasingly remote figure," adds the paper.

In a statement Fifa said it was "cooperating with the OAG [Office of the Attorney General] and has complied with all requests for documents, data and other information. We will continue this level of cooperation throughout the investigation."

Fifa scandal: Valcke suspended over tickets as pay-off bid fails

18 September

Fifa made sure that the Rugby World Cup was forced to share the limelight as a new crisis engulfed football's governing body after Sepp Blatter's deputy Jerome Valcke was suspended over allegations involving the sale of 2014 World Cup tickets.

News that Valcke had "been put on leave and released from his duties effective immediately until further notice" came hours after claims by a former footballer about a plan to sell World Cup tickets at a profit.

Valcke, the secretary general of Fifa since 2007, has been "accused of conspiring to supply thousands of tickets for last year's World Cup for sale on the black market", reports the Daily Telegraph. "E-mails and documents suggest Valcke was aware a Swiss marketing company were selling off World Cup and Confederation Cup tickets for almost five times their face value."

The allegations were made by Benny Alon, a retired Israeli footballer who has worked in sports ticketing and hospitality, says The Times. In 2013 he hatched a plan "to pay cash to Valcke to secure plum World Cup tickets," reports the paper. "He said the plan was to then sell the tickets to fans at a mark-up and split the proceeds with Valcke."

Valcke, 55, has held his role as secretary general since 2007, says the Times. The appointment came after he was "released" from his role as marketing director having been "implicated in allegedly misleading World Cup sponsor Mastercard during contract renewal talks".

The case ended up in court and "Valcke's conduct and business ethics were severely criticised by a New York judge", says the paper.

It has also been claimed that Valcke, who is set to quit Fifa with Blatter early next year, "tried to secure a pay-off of several million pounds from Fifa just a week before he was suspended". The Guardian reports that Valcke was keen to make an "early exit" from Fifa even though his contract had three years to run. He "wanted to be paid out in full for the remainder of the deal but was unsuccessful in negotiating a pay-off," says the paper.

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