ZURICH, October 9 – FIFA president Sepp Blatter appealed against the 90 day ban that forced him out of office, a report said Friday as world football’s sleaze-tainted governing body headed into months of turmoil over how to find a new leader.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) became the latest regional body to demand an emergency meeting of the FIFA executive after the suspension of Blatter, UEFA president Michel Platini and FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke.
The New York Times reported that the 79-year-old Blatter had complained that he only found out about his suspension after it was made public.
Blatter’s lawyers demanded a full hearing to argue his case and also asked to see the case file used by the FIFA ethics committee in deciding the suspension, the Times said.
Platini also plans to appeal against his 90 day suspension. Platini is a leading candidate in FIFA’s presidential election in February, alongside South Korean tycoon Chung Mong-Joon who was banned from football activities for six years in the ethics committee purge.
Chung, a former FIFA vice president, has also vowed to use “all legal means” to fight his ban.
Blatter, who has led FIFA since 1998, was provisionally banned by the body’s ethics watchdog as Swiss prosecutors investigate him for criminal mismanagement.
Platini was named in the Swiss inquiry over a two million dollar payment he received from FIFA.
The crisis at FIFA has been building since May, when US authorities announced charges against 14 officials and sports marketing executives over bribery allegations amounting to more than $150 million.
Asia’s powerful football chief Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa wrote to acting FIFA president Issa Hayatou calling for an emergency meeting of the body’s executive committee.
“These are exceptional circumstances and that is why we need the meeting. Only together will we overcome these difficult times,” Khalifa said, according to a statement from the AFC.
The German and English federations have made similar calls. A FIFA spokeswoman told AFP the matter would be discussed by Hayatou and other senior committee members next week.
But the decision rests with the acting president, who is currently in Cameroon, the spokeswoman said.
Blatter, a 40-year veteran of FIFA, is still in Zurich, home of the organisation’s headquarters, a source close to him told AFP.
– Platini tarnished –
A cloud now hangs over Platini, the former French captain and one of the greatest players of all time, who had presented himself as the man to clean up FIFA after years of scandal and graft allegations.
The 60-year-old has been named in the investigation into Blatter because of a $2 million (1.8 million euro) payment he received in 2011.
He insists the payment was legitimate and slammed the FIFA ban as “farcical”, pledging to carry on with his bid to lead the world body.
“I reject all the allegations that have been made against me,” he said, indicating he too intended to appeal against the ban.
The 54-member UEFA will meet at its Nyon headquarters next Thursday to discuss the crisis.
The suspensions handed out on Thursday can be renewed for another 45 days when they run out in January, which would take the exclusion until just before the FIFA election to be held on February 26.
Platini said he had still registered his official papers to be a candidate in the FIFA race. The deadline is October 26.
The head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) — which has wrestled with its own graft problems in the past — weighed into the controversy on Thursday.
IOC President Thomas Bach said “enough was enough” and it was time for FIFA to consider bringing an outsider in to clean house.
South Korean tycoon Chung Mong-Joon, a candidate for the FIFA presidency along with Platini, was hit with an outright six-year ban on Thursday, ruling him out of the race.
The scion of the Hyundai family was found to have contravened rules while lobbying for South Korea’s bid for the 2022 World Cup which was awarded to Qatar in a controversial 2010 vote.
Despite the mounting chaos, former senior FIFA official Guido Tognoni told AFP he saw “no reason” why the presidential vote should be postponed.