Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
The Adjudicatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee today provisionally suspended FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, General Secretary Jérôme Valcke and UEFA President Michel Platini for 90 days, and banned Chung Mong-joon for six years. FIFA clarified that the provisional suspensions and bans mean that Blatter, Platini, Valcke and Mong-joon are banned from all football activities at an international and national level, and can be extended for an additional period not exceeding 45 days.
FIFA’s announcement came minutes after Platini announced that he had submitted the letters of support required in order to stand as a candidate to become FIFA’s new President. Under Article 15 of the Electoral Regulations for the FIFA Presidency, the Ethics Committee is required to carry out an integrity check, which must be passed by candidates in order for them to be recommended as a Presidential candidate by FIFA’s Ad-Hoc Electoral Committee. It appears unlikely that Platini or Mong-joon will now be accepted as candidates.
The ability for the bans to be extended could prove important. As Blatter is not a candidate for election, presumably he would not be subject to the integrity checks under the Electoral Regulations. Presently, the 90-day bans are due to expire on 9 January 2016, however if they are extended by 45 days, that would take them to 20 February, six days ahead of the 26 February elections for FIFA’s new President. That would leave Blatter investigation free on election day.
As reported by the Sports Integrity Initiative last weekend, Blatter has said that he will not stand for election as the new President, however he has yet to clarify what would happen should no viable candidates present themselves for election. With Platini and Mong-joon all but eliminated, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan is currently the only candidate considering standing. In an emailed statement, reproduced in full below, Blatter asserted confidence that he would be cleared, which would leave him investigation free ahead of election day.
In his emailed statement, Platini was critical about how information about the Ethics Committee investigations had entered the public domain. As the Sports Integrity Initiative also reported yesterday, Article 36 of the FIFA Code of Ethics mandates that all investigations and proceedings conducted by the Ethics Committee should remain confidential until a final decision is issued to the persons concerned. This was confirmed by FIFA’s announcement today: ‘The Ethics Committee is unable to comment on the details of the decisions until they become final, due to the provisions of article 36 (Confidentiality) of the FIFA Code of Ethics’, it read.
Here is Platini’s statement in full: ‘It was reported last night that the investigatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee intends to recommend to its adjudicatory chamber that I be given a 90-day suspension. This is clearly an extremely serious matter – all the more so given that this information appears to have come from an official FIFA source, despite the fact that the Ethics Committee, which is supposed to act with full independence, has not yet issued its decision.’
‘This deliberate leak – which is insidious in nature and has come about in an unacceptable manner – is essentially an attempt to damage my reputation. Over the last few weeks, I have stressed my willingness to cooperate fully with the authorities carrying out the various enquiries in compliance with the strictest procedural rules. FIFA, on the other hand, has clearly flouted those rules.’
‘I have always acted and expressed myself with honesty, courage and candour, as I feel that this is my moral duty. If what is being reported regarding the intentions of the investigatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee is indeed true, I will stop at nothing to ensure that the truth is known. Nobody should be in any doubt as to my determination to achieve that objective.’
‘In the meantime, a dispassionate, independent and impartial judicial body needs to shine a light on the events that led the FIFA Ethics Committee to open these investigatory proceedings. This morning I submitted the letters of support that are required in order to stand as a candidate for the presidency of FIFA. As I have always done since 2007, I will fulfil my obligations after consulting UEFA’s 54 member associations, which I will ask to convene shortly in Nyon. I will also meet with all the other confederations and FIFA’s member associations in the spirit of openness that has always characterised my actions. I am certain that we will overcome this difficulty with full transparency and the unity that gives football its strength.’
Here is Joseph S. Blatter’s statement, issued via email through his US lawyers, in full: ‘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. President Blatter looks forward to the opportunity to present evidence that will demonstrate that he did not engage in any misconduct, criminal or otherwise.’
FIFA’s official statement, issued this afternoon, followed that of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee: ‘Today, in accordance with FIFA’s Code of Ethics, Joseph S. Blatter was relieved of all his duties as FIFA President following the decision of the Independent Chairman of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the Ethics Committee to provisionally ban him from all football activities on a national and international level.’
‘Joseph S. Blatter, for the duration of the 90-day ban, is not allowed to represent FIFA in any capacity, act on the organisation’s behalf, or communicate to media or other stakeholders as a FIFA representative. As mandated by article 32 (6) of the FIFA Statutes, Issa Hayatou, as the longest-serving vice-president on FIFA’s Executive Committee, will serve as Acting President of FIFA.’
‘It was also announced that the Independent Chairman of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the Ethics Committee issued a provisional 90-day ban for FIFA’s Secretary General, Jérôme Valcke. This decision follows FIFA’s announcement on 17 September 2015, that the organization had put Jérôme Valcke on leave and released him from his duties effective immediately. On that date, FIFA requested a formal investigation by the Ethics Committee. All operational business matters will continue to be overseen by Markus Kattner, Acting Secretary General.’
Issa Hayatou’s statement followed FIFA’s, and confirmed that he would not be standing for election as FIFA’s new President in February: ‘Today, amid extraordinary circumstances, I have assumed the office of FIFA President pursuant to Article 32 (6) of the FIFA Statutes. I will serve only on an interim basis. A new President will be chosen by the Extraordinary Congress on 26 February 2016. I myself will not be a candidate for that position.’
‘Until the Extraordinary Congress, I pledge that I will dedicate my best efforts to the organization, the member associations, our employees, our valued partners, and football fans everywhere. FIFA remains committed to the reform process, which is critical to reclaiming public trust. We will also continue to cooperate fully with authorities and follow the internal investigation wherever it leads. Football has never enjoyed greater support throughout the world, and that is something everyone associated with FIFA should be proud of.’