FIFA open corruption probe into Blatter
Agence France-Presse | 5/27/2011 12:00:00 AM |
FIFA announced it has opened an investigation into president Sepp Blatter on Friday as the corruption scandal gripping world football took another extraordinary twist
FIFA announced it has opened an investigation into president Sepp Blatter on Friday as the corruption scandal gripping world football took another extraordinary twist, Agence France-Presse reported.
A statement from football's governing body said Blatter had been ordered to appear before FIFA's ethics committee on Sunday to respond to claims that he knew about alleged cash payments to Caribbean officials.
The ethics proceedings against Blatter follow a request by Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Mohamed Bin-Hammam, who is attempting to unseat the FIFA chief at elections in Zurich on June 1.
Friday's announcement came just two days after Bin Hammam, FIFA vice-president Jack Warner and two Caribbean Football Union officials were summoned to the ethics committee to answer corruption allegations.
Bin Hammam and Warner were targeted after Chuck Blazer, general secretary of regional footballing body CONCACAF, reported possible misdeeds during a May 10 and 11 meeting in Trinidad.
The meeting was organized as part of bin Hammam's campaign to drum up support for his presidential bid.
Bin Hammam has strongly denied the allegations and on Thursday called for Blatter to be questioned by the ethics commitee, saying the FIFA boss "was informed of, but did not oppose" payments made to Caribbean officials.
FIFA's statement on Friday said Blatter had been summoned to appear before the ethics committee to answer claims that Warner had told him in advance of alleged payments made at the meeting.
The statement continued: "Subsequently, the FIFA Ethics Committee today opened a procedure against the FIFA President in compliance with art. 16 of the FIFA Code of Ethics.
"Joseph S. Blatter has been invited to take position by 28 May 2011, 11:00 CET and to attend a hearing by the FIFA Ethics Committee at the Home of FIFA (Zurich) on 29 May 2011."
Blatter's presidential election rival Mohamed bin Hammam has already been summoned to face a FIFA ethics panel on Sunday on charges of bribing voters, casting into doubt whether Wednesday's poll can go ahead.
Blatter issued only a brief statement on Friday following FIFA's announcement.
"I cannot comment on the proceedings that have been opened against me today. The facts will speak for themselves," the Swiss powerbroker said.
Blatter has denied suggestions from Bin Hammam that he had orchestrated the charges against the man seeking to unseat him, dismissing them as "ludicrous."
"I take no joy to see men who stood by my side for some two decades, suffer through public humiliation without having been convicted of any wrongdoing ...," Blatter wrote in his column on the respected InsideWorldFootball blog.
"To now assume that the present ordeal of my opponent were to fill me with some sort of perverse satisfaction or that this entire matter was somehow masterminded by me is ludicrous and completely reprehensible."
The civil war which has erupted within FIFA's echelons this week follows weeks of corruption allegations involving the organisation's officials.
FIFA opened a separate inquiry after accusations made in the British parliament regarding the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Former English Football Association chairman David Triesman told a committee he had witnessed "improper and unethical" behaviour by four FIFA voters -- including Warner -- while campaigning for England's failed 2018 World Cup bid.
Meanwhile, UEFA President Michel Platini has described the decision by FIFA to investigate Sepp Blatter as part of bribery scandal as a "very interesting moment."
After being told of the new developments, Platini said: "We have some strange days these new, these next days." He said that because of the FIFA elections, "I will go back to Zurich after the final of the Champions League," the Associated Press reported.
Insisting he has never taken a bribe, Platini added: "You know the people who are corrupt, they know who can be corruptible. They know I am incorruptible."