According to various reports, FIFA’s ethics committee has recommended a 90-day suspension of president Sepp Blatter while they wait to see if any of the numerous investigations of him stick. Mind you, this is only a provisional suspension which must be ratified by a man with a track record of trying to sweep FIFA scandals under the rug.
The reports, specifically from the Guardian and the BBC, all cite long-time Blatter confidante Klaus Stöhlker as the source for the ethics committee’s recommendation. Here’s Stöhlker from the Guardian:
“What we know is that president Blatter was told he could be suspended for 90 days. The ethics committee has not taken any key decisions, they are waiting for further investigations. There is no guilt impugned,” said Stöhlker. “They put the ball to Mr Lauber in Switzerland. He is now in position for further investigation. At least 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.”
The committee opened its investigation after two concrete accusations were finally levied at Blatter: that he signed a shady World Cup TV rights deal facilitated by none other than our old friend Jack Warner; and that he made a curious payment to Michel Platini that led Swiss authorities to open their own criminal investigation. (And at least one report says the committee has also recommended Platini’s suspended, which would end his presidential election plans.)
Remember, though, that at this point nothing is official. It was only FIFA’s investigatory subcommittee that recommended this suspension, which would keep Blatter out of all official business until January, a month before the election to find his successor is to be held; it still needs to be ratified by the head of the committee.
That puts the ball into Hans-Joachim Eckert’s court. That name may be familiar to you if you recall the independent, exhaustive, and apparently damning FIFA corruption report that we never really got a look at. You know, the report which led the investigator, former U.S. Attorney Michael J. Garcia, to publicly slam FIFA’s sanitized summary while demanding his original version be released in full. Eckert was the man who fought like hell to conceal Garcia’s full findings by bringing up all sorts of irrelevant qualms about privacy and investigative propriety, and ended up authoring his own “FIFA Corruption Report: It’s Not All That Bad, See!” Cliffs Notes version.
The BBC suspects Eckert will make his decision on the committee’s recommendation on Thursday. It’s not a promising sign that this all rests on the head of FIFA’s ethics committee actually having ethics.
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