As was reported yesterday, save the not-unreasonable belief that a known whitewasher would break out the paint, Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini, and Jérôme Valcke have all been suspended for 90 days by FIFA’s ethics committee.
In Blatter and Platini’s cases, the suspensions stem primarily from the Swiss criminal investigation into a certain payment Blatter made to Platini that authorities suspect was in exchange for the Frenchman’s help in securing Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid and for not running against the reigning president in the 2011 election. Valcke’s suspension relates to the alleged ticket-selling racket that already earned him a suspension.
Lest you think there are any good guys in any way connected to this deplorably corrupt organization, the ethics committee head Hans-Joachim Eckert also handed down a six-year suspension to Chung Mung-joon, the man who just yesterday vowed to take on Blatter, whom he described as “a hypocrite and a liar,” and reform soccer’s governing body should he win the upcoming presidential election.
Here is FIFA’s official statement on the suspensions, from ESPN FC:
“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 Jerome 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.”
Through his attorney Blatter has released his own statement on the matter, showing the same amount of delusional optimism and calculated obfuscation that’s made him so bizarrely resilient over the years. From the Guardian:
“President Blatter was disappointed that the Ethics Committee did not follow the Code of Ethics and Disciplinary Code, both of which provide for an opportunity to be heard. Further, the Ethics Committee based its decision on a misunderstanding of the actions of the Attorney General in Switzerland, which has opened an investigation but brought no charge against the President. In fact, the prosecutors will be obliged by law to dismiss the case if their investigation, barely two weeks old, does not establish sufficient evidence. Pres Blatter looks forward to opportunity to present evidence that will demonstrate he did not engage in any misconduct.”
Yes, Sepp, you’re right; the Swiss Attorney General hasn’t found you guilty. Yet. But the whole point of a provisional suspension is to get those under investigation for certain crimes or misdeeds out of office until more info comes to light.
And as you’d suspect, Blatter’s grasp of FIFA’s Code of Ethics isn’t exactly firm:
Platini has yet to make a statement, but he did offer a poorly timed response to yesterday’s report. In it, he went on about how troubling it was that the ethics committee’s recommendation had somehow leaked, taking issue with the form of the ultimately accurate report while ignoring the substance behind it.
In Platini’s case, this suspension is a huge blow. Blatter was always going to be out of FIFA sooner or later, but Platini was potentially the big winner after his former mentor’s troubles. In the popular imagination, UEFA was a soccer governing body done right, full of first-world countries too sophisticated to engage in all that messy bribery and favoritism and was instead primarily concerned with bettering the game. Platini was the clear and overwhelming favorite to assume the mantle of FIFA president after Blatter stepped down, bringing the open and corruption-free style of Europe to the world.
This was always bullshit. Platini, as indicated by the potential kickback payment and other earlier allegations, foremost among them his ties to Qatar, is dirty like the rest of them, varying only in degree. And now that he’s been suspended, even provisionally, he will no longer be able to stand for the presidential seat that only weeks ago seemed like his for the taking.
All sorts of current and former FIFA officials will come out in the days, weeks, and months to come, announcing their outright shock at the corruption everyone’s known about forever, decrying the behavior of these “few” bad apples at the top, and promising to clean it all up should they succeed in their candidacy for president. If the suspensions of today aren’t indicative of just how deep the rot is, consider the following: in Blatter’s absence over the next 90 days, the Cameroonian head of the African soccer confederation Issa Hayatou will take over his duties as interim president; Platini’s replacement will be Ángel María Villar.
In 2011, Hayatou was disciplined by the IOC for his alleged involvement in a bribery scheme. He has also lead the charge to change a number of rules relating to his confederation’s presidency to, as Reuters put it, “limit potential opponents to Hayatou’s rule.”
Villar, president of the almost comically inept Spanish federation, is himself under FIFA investigation for his refusal to comply with that independent corruption report that was swept under the rug. He has also proven over the years, by allowing what should be a thriving women’s game in Spain to decay under the leadership of a buddy to whom he gave the national team coaching job, to be possibly even less supportive of women’s soccer than Sepp “Let Them Eat Rubber Pellets, Preferably In Tight Shorts” Blatter.
Never think that all of this muck stops the moment Blatter and his top cronies are gone, and never doubt that this is exactly the soccer world he set out to create.
Photo via Getty