News 20th October 2015

FIFA Update: Elections in February despite Platini’s suspension

At an extraordinary session of the FIFA Executive Committee, it was decided that world football’s governing body will hold the election for its next President on 26 February 2016. The announcement means that Presidential hopeful Michel Platini, who, as reported by the Sports Integrity Initiative was suspended for 90 days earlier this month, will be effectively unable to campaign for election.

Presently, both Platini and incumbent President Sepp Blatter are serving 90-day bans which are due to expire on 9 January 2016. However the bans can be extended for an additional period not exceeding 45 days, which 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 and Platini, in practice, able to stand for election. However, 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 in order to be recommended as a Presidential candidate by FIFA’s Ad-Hoc Electoral Committee. It appears unlikely that Platini would therefore be accepted as a candidate.

Both Platini and Blatter are suspended from all football while FIFA’s Ethics Committee investigate allegations that Platini received a £1.35m payment from Blatter in 2011. Blatter, who is under criminal investigation by the Swiss Attorney General’s office, reportedly told the Swiss broadcaster RROTV that the payment was simply a ‘gentleman’s agreement.’ Platini alleges that the ‘money was an unpaid additional salary due from the time he served as Blatter’s advisor between 1998 and 2002.’

Platini, the current President of European football’s governing body, UEFA, insists that he had done nothing wrong. He told the French newspaper Le Monde that his ‘lawyers are following the Fifa [sic] proceedings and will take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if need be.’

The FIFA Executive Committee also announced that it had approved a set of important measures to ‘further strengthen its governance and increase the transparency of Ethics Committee proceedings while reiterating its commitment to necessary reforms already underway.’

In a separate interview with the Financial Times, Domenico Scala, the Chairman of FIFA’s Audit and Compliance Committee, said that FIFA should move to an ‘EU-style rotating presidency to avoid future corruption scandals.’ Scala, who has published a set of reform proposals, also lamented the lack of credible candidates for the Presidency. He allegedly stated that the ‘very short list of candidates for the presidency’ was a reason for reforming FIFA’s leadership. Sepp Blatter has been President of FIFA for 17 years.

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