Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA, was facing a potential suspension this week as the independent ethics committee of world soccer’s governing body deliberated on whether to remove him, at least temporarily, while Swiss authorities investigate him for possible corruption.
While some news outlets reported Wednesday that a provisional suspension had already been issued, Mr. Blatter was said to still be working at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich as of Wednesday evening, and his lawyer rejected reports that a decision had been reached.
The ethics committee is two-pronged, and the process behind any suspension is complex. The committee’s investigatory chamber looks into accusations and makes recommendations for sanctions, but it is the adjudicatory chamber — led by the German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert — that ultimately decides to issue suspensions. It was possible that Mr. Eckert could issue a ruling as soon as Thursday.
“Mr. Blatter has not been notified of any action by the ethics committee,” Richard Cullen, Mr. Blatter’s lawyer, said, “and we would expect that he would have the opportunity to be heard before any decision could be made.”
Abdoulaye Makhtar Diop of Senegal, who is a member of the adjudicatory chamber, said in statement Wednesday that the cases of Mr. Blatter and Michel Platini, the head of European soccer’s governing body, UEFA, were being considered by the ethics committee. The office of Switzerland’s attorney general is investigating Mr. Blatter — and has interviewed Mr. Platini — about two financial transactions involving FIFA that it suspects were improper. Both Mr. Blatter and Mr. Platini have denied wrongdoing.
Provisional suspensions imposed by the ethics committee can last for 90 days. If Mr. Blatter is suspended, FIFA’s rules call for Issa Hayatou, the head of African soccer’s governing body, to become the interim president because he is the most senior of FIFA’s vice presidents.