FIFA president Sepp Blatter has been recommended for provisional suspension by the organisation’s ethics committee, according to a close friend.
The suspension has to be confirmed by German Judge Hans Joachim Eckhert, chairman of the Ethics Committee’s adjudicatory chamber, The Social Magazine Sports Correspondent Paul Kelso said.
The ethics committee met this week after the Swiss attorney general opened criminal proceedings against Mr Blatter over a £1.3m payment to UEFA President Michel Platini.
Klaus Stoehlker, who has advised Mr Blatter in the past, says the committee made the ruling pending further investigations by the authorities.
He described it as a “pending” verdict, and said no negative finding had been made against the head of world football’s governing body.
However, lawyers for Mr Blatter say he has not been notified of any action by the ethics committee.
The announcement comes just hours after Mr Blatter criticised the criminal investigation against him in Switzerland, describing it as “outrageous”.
He also defended his decision to remain as head of the football organising body and not step down immediately, as worldwide sponsors have urged.
Kelso says the 90-day suspension is “very, very significant news”, adding that, if confirmed by Judge Eckhert, it “could very well be the end of Mr Blatter’s 17 rocky years in power”.
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Mr Blatter is suspected of “criminal mismanagement or misappropriation” and his office has been searched.
The allegations relate to suspicion over a “disloyal payment” of 2m Swiss francs (£1.3m) to Mr Platini, which was “allegedly made for work performed between January 1999 and June 2002”.
Mr Platini said the payment “relates to work which I carried out under a contract” and he “was pleased to have been able to clarify all matters” to the authorities. The Frenchman is not accused of any wrongdoing.
Richard Cable, former sports minister and 2018 World Cup bid ambassador said: “In any organisation if these types of serious allegations were made against the president, they would be suspended and that is exactly what has happened this evening and that is right.
“Is it the endgame? I don’t know yet. But I think it’s good news in the sense that the pressure’s now come on.”
David Larkin, co-founder of Change FIFA, told Sky News: “We have to wait and see what happens … I don’t think it’s time to draw any conclusions yet.
“We have seen these sorts of suspensions happen where ultimately they were lifted – so this is not a foregone conclusion.”
Football commentator Keir Radnedge agreed but added that it would be “unprecedented” if the judge did not accept the recommendation of suspension.
Clive Efford Labour’s Shadow Sports minister, said: “It beggars belief that the FIFA’s ethics committee has suspended Sepp Blatter for a mere 90 days.”
“Sepp Blatter’s term as FIFA president is due to end in March and it is not acceptable for him to return unless all of the investigations into corruption are completed and he is found innocent.”