FIFA suspends Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini for 90 days

Criminal Case Against Sepp Blatter

ZURICH (AP) — Sepp Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini, the former France great who had been favored to take over as FIFA leader, were both suspended for 90 days Thursday, plunging soccer's governing body deeper into crisis.

Blatter and Platini were suspended by the FIFA ethics committee in the wake of a Swiss criminal investigation. The decision seemingly ends Platini's bid to succeed Blatter as FIFA president in the emergency election in February.

Another presidential hopeful, Chung Mong-joon, was suspended for six years in a separate case and FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke was banned for 90 days.

The suspensions can be extended by up to 45 days.

The International Olympic Committee called on FIFA to consider a "credible external presidential candidate of high integrity" as Blatter's replacement.

"Enough is enough," IOC President Thomas Bach said. "We hope that now, finally, everyone at FIFA has at last understood that they cannot continue to remain passive.

"They must act swiftly to regain credibility because you cannot forever dissociate the credibility of FIFA from the credibility of football."

Issa Hayatou, the longtime head of the African soccer confederation who was reprimanded in 2011 by the IOC in a FIFA kickbacks scandal, will take over as acting president.

The 69-year-old Cameroonian, who has a serious kidney illness that requires regular dialysis sessions, is currently in Yaounde and is expected to travel to Zurich immediately.

Hayatou said he would not stand for president in February but remained committed to the reform process.

"We will also continue to cooperate fully with authorities and follow the internal investigation wherever it leads," Hayatou said in a statement.

The interim leader of UEFA will be Spanish federation head Angel Maria Villar, who remains at risk of being sanctioned from the FIFA ethics committee in its investigation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests.

UEFA's 54 member nations are due to meet in Nyon, Switzerland, next Thursday, while FIFA vice president David Gill and fellow executive committee member Wolfgang Niersbach have called for an emergency meeting of FIFA's ruling body.

Blatter's suspension brings a sudden halt to a 40-year career that had survived waves of scandals until he was placed under criminal investigation.

Last month, Swiss authorities turned up at Blatter's office at FIFA headquarters and interrogated him. The criminal case centers on Blatter allegedly misusing FIFA money by making a $2 million payment to Platini, who was questioned as a witness.

Blatter was also questioned by Swiss investigators about broadcasting contracts sold to former FIFA vice president Jack Warner in 2005 that were supposedly undervalued.

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FIFA suspends Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini for 90 days
Swiss attorney General Michael Lauber attends a press conference on June 17, 2015 in Bern. Swiss authorities are investigating the 2010 FIFA vote that awarded the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
NAGOYA, JAPAN - DECEMBER 07: Chuck Blazer Chairman of the Organising Committee for the FIFA Club World Cup talks to the media during the FIFA Club World Cup Organising Committee Press Conference at Nagoya Marriott Associa Hotel on December 7, 2011 in Nagoya, Japan. (Photo by Shaun Botterill - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - MAY 27: An FBI agent wearing a mask carries a box from the headquarters of CONCACAF after it was raided on May 27, 2015 in Miami Beach, Florida. The raid is part of an international investigation of FIFA where nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives were charged with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies. (Photo by Joe Skipper/Getty Images)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - MAY 27: FBI agents carry boxes and computers from the headquarters of CONCACAF after it was raided on May 27, 2015 in Miami Beach, Florida. The raid is part of an international investigation of FIFA where nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives were charged with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies. (Photo by Joe Skipper/Getty Images)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - MAY 27: FBI agents carry boxes from the headquarters of CONCACAF after it was raided on May 27, 2015 in Miami Beach, Florida. The raid is part of an international investigation of FIFA where nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives were charged with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies. (Photo by Joe Skipper/Getty Images)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - MAY 27: FBI agents carry boxes from the headquarters of CONCACAF after it was raided on May 27, 2015 in Miami Beach, Florida. The raid is part of an international investigation of FIFA where nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives were charged with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies. (Photo by Joe Skipper/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 27: Attorney General Loretta Lynch speaks at a packed news conference at the U.S. Attorneys Office of the Eastern District of New York following the early morning arrest of world soccer figures, including officials of FIFA, for racketeering, bribery, money laundering and fraud on May 27, 2015 in New York City. The morning arrests took place at a hotel where FIFA members were attending a meeting for the world governing body of soccer (football) in Switzerland. The Justice Department unsealed a 47 count indictment early Wednesday charging 14 world soccer figures. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Costa Rican Football Federation acting President Jorge Hidalgo speaks during a press conference on May 27, 2015, in Lindora, 20 km west of San Jose, about the capture of Costa Rican Football Federation President Eduardo Li and six executives of FIFA in Zurich, Switzerland. AFP PHOTO / Ezequiel BECERRA (Photo credit should read EZEQUIEL BECERRA/AFP/Getty Images)
US Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announces charges against FIFA officials at a news conference on May 27, 2015 in New York. The soccer officials arrested on Wednesday in an investigation into the FIFA governing body have corrupted the international game, Lynch said Wednesday. She spoke after Swiss authorities acting on the US indictments detained several FIFA leaders in a dawn raid in Zurich as part of a corruption probe that has rocked the sport's governing body. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
FIFA spokesman Walter De Gregorio arrives to give a press conference at the FIFA headquarters, on May 27, 2015 in Zurich. Swiss police on Wednesday raided a Zurich hotel to detain six top football officials as part of a US investigation into tens of millions of dollars of bribes paid to sport leaders, Swiss authorities and media reports said. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
FIFA spokesman Walter De Gregorio gives a press conference at the FIFA headquarters, on May 27, 2015 in Zurich. Swiss police on Wednesday raided a Zurich hotel to detain six top football officials as part of a US investigation into tens of millions of dollars of bribes paid to sport leaders, Swiss authorities and media reports said. (Photo credit Fabrice Coffrini, AFP/Getty Images)
FIFA spokesman Walter De Gregorio gives a press conference at the FIFA headquarters, on May 27, 2015 in Zurich. Swiss police on Wednesday raided a Zurich hotel to detain six top football officials as part of a US investigation into tens of millions of dollars of bribes paid to sport leaders, Swiss authorities and media reports said. (Photo credit Fabrice Coffrini, AFP/Getty Images)
A staff waits prior to a press conference at the FIFA heaquarters on May 27, 2015 in Zurich. Swiss police on Wednesday raided a Zurich hotel to detain six top football officials as part of a US investigation into tens of millions of dollars of bribes paid to sport leaders, Swiss authorities and media reports said. (Photo credit Fabrice Coffrini, AFP/Getty Images)
FIFA Director of Communications Walter de Gregorio attends a press conference at the FIFA headquarters on May 27, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland. Swiss police on Wednesday raided a Zurich hotel to detain top FIFA football officials as part of a US investigation. (Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images)
FIFA Director of Communications Walter de Gregorio reacts during a press conference at the FIFA headquarters on May 27, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland. Swiss police on Wednesday raided a Zurich hotel to detain top FIFA football officials as part of a US investigation. (Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images)
A man walks by the headquarters of the international soccer's top body FIFA in Zurich, on May 27, 2015. Swiss police raided the headquarters of FIFA in Zurich, seizing documents and data, the Swiss attorney-general's office said. The raids were part of an investigation already underway into money laundering and fraud involving FIFA's awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively, a statement said. (Photo credit Fabrice Coffrini, AFP/Getty Images)
A cloud is seen above the headquarters of international soccer's top body FIFA, on May 27, 2015 in Zurich. Swiss policeraided a Zurich hotel to detain six top football officials as part of a US investigation into tens of millions of dollars of bribes paid to sport leaders, Swiss authorities and media reports said. (Photo credit Fabrice Coffrini, AFP/Getty Images)
A woman walks by a logo of international soccer's top body FIFA, on May 27, 2015 at the organization's headquarters in Zurich. Swiss policeraided a Zurich hotel to detain six top football officials as part of a US investigation into tens of millions of dollars of bribes paid to sport leaders, Swiss authorities and media reports said. (Photo credit Fabrice Coffrini, AFP/Getty Images)
Media gathers outside the Hotel Baur-au-Lac where Swiss authorities conducted an early morning operation on May 27, 2015 to arrest several top soccer officials and extradite them to the United States on federal corruption charges. FIFA said it was seeking to clarify the situation after six football officials were arrested in Zurich on the request of US authorities, suspected of receiving bribes worth millions of dollars. (Photo credit AFP/Getty Images)
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Blatter's lawyer, Richard Cullen, said the ethics committee failed to follow procedure and based its decision on a "misunderstanding."

"The attorney general in Switzerland ... opened an investigation but brought no charge against the president," Cullen said in a statement. "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.

"President Blatter looks forward to the opportunity to present evidence that will demonstrate that he did not engage in any misconduct, criminal or otherwise."

There was no immediate comment from Platini.

The suspension of the former France great could have the most far-reaching implications. Platini submitted his formal candidacy to stand in the Feb. 26 election to replace Blatter on Thursday morning. That means it will have to be considered by the audit and compliance committee after the Oct. 26 deadline for candidacies.

Chung, a former FIFA vice president, was found guilty of breaches relating to the investigation into bidding for the 2022 World Cup, of which South Korea was a contender. Valcke had already been put on leave last month after being the subject of allegations over a deal for black market sales of tickets to 2014 World Cup matches.

Valcke's lawyer, Barry Berke, said the Frenchman was the subject of "false allegations."

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