Sus­pended FIFA chief Blat­ter in hos­pi­tal, to leave Mon­day

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

GENEVA: Sus­pended FIFA pres­i­dent Sepp Blat­ter is in hos­pi­tal af­ter be­ing placed un­der med­i­cal ob­ser­va­tion for stress, but he is ex­pect­ing to leave the fa­cil­ity early next week, his spokesman said yes­ter­day. “He is now, at this mo­ment, in hos­pi­tal,” Blat­ter’s spokesman Klaus Stoehlker told AFP by phone, adding that Blat­ter was ad­mit­ted sev­eral days ago.

“He is preparing to leave on Mon­day and will be back on the job on Tues­day,” Stoehlker said. The spokesman added that 79-year-old Blat­ter had “re­gained his good hu­mour” and has vowed to per­sist with “his fight against the (FIFA) ethics com­mit­tee” which sus­pended him for 90 days over cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions. “He said to me, ‘I was elected FIFA pres­i­dent by 209 congress mem­bers and no (ethics) com­mis­sion can force me out,’” Stoehlker quoted Blat­ter as say­ing. Blat­ter, long the most pow­er­ful man in foot­ball, suf­fered a med­i­cal in­ci­dent last week­end and had been placed un­der med­i­cal ob­ser­va­tion from his home.

Stoehlker pre­vi­ously said the stress-re­lated ail­ment had been brought on by the pres­sure the em­bat­tled Swiss na­tional has faced in re­cent weeks. Blat­ter has been at the cen­tre of the worst scan­dal to ever hit world foot­ball, which kicked off in May when 14 ex-FIFA of­fi­cial and sports mar­ket­ing ex­ec­u­tives were charged by the US jus­tice depart­ment over decades of graft and bribery.

Blat­ter was elected to a fifth term as FIFA’s pres­i­dent days later, but he has since been en­gulfed by the scan­dal. In Septem­ber, Swiss pros­e­cu­tors opened a crim­i­nal case against him over mis­man­age­ment and a sus­pi­cious $2 mil­lion pay­ment made in 2011 to Euro­pean foot­ball chief Michel Pla­tini.

Be­fore he was sus­pended, Blat­ter, who has been in charge of FIFA since 1998, said he would step down on Fe­bru­ary 26, next year, when a FIFA congress elects a new pres­i­dent.

Pla­tini had been favoured to win the vote, but his sus­pen­sion by FIFA’s ethics com­mit­tee is thought to have hurt his can­di­dacy. Seven can­di­dates are in the run­ning to suc­ceed Blat­ter, in­clud­ing Pla­tini.

Figueredo agrees to ex­tra­di­tion

Separately, for­mer FIFA vice pres­i­dent Eu­ge­nio Figueredo, who served un­der Blat­ter, agreed to be ex­tra­dited from Switzer­land to his home coun­try of Uruguay, where he faces cor­rup­tion charges.

But the ex­tra­di­tion could be chal­lenged by the United States jus­tice depart­ment, which charged Figueredo as part of its sweep­ing in­dict­ments in May.

The Swiss jus­tice min­istry (FOJ) has ap­proved Figueredo’s ex­tra­di­tion to both the United States and Uruguay.

“It will be for the US au­thor­i­ties to state whether or not they agree to Uruguay be­ing given pri­or­ity. If the US au­thor­i­ties do not agree, the is­sue will be de­cided by the FOJ,” a state­ment from FOJ spokesman Folco Galli said. Figueredo, 83 and a for­mer vice-pres­i­dent of the South Amer­i­can Foot­ball Con­fed­er­a­tion (CONMEBOL), was charged by the US with us­ing his in­flu­ence to so­licit mil­lions of dol­lars worth of bribes.

While Figueredo was de­tained in Switzer­land, Uruguayan au­thor­i­ties launched a sep­a­rate in­ves­ti­ga­tion and have since charged him with abus­ing his of­fice. Figueredo con­tin­ues to fight against ex­tra­di­tion to the United States. —AFP

ZURICH: A pic­ture taken on July 20, 2015 shows FIFA pres­i­dent Sepp Blat­ter ges­tur­ing dur­ing a press con­fer­ence at the foot­ball’s world body head­quar­ters in Zurich. Blat­ter has been hos­pi­talised af­ter be­ing placed un­der med­i­cal ob­ser­va­tion for stress, but he is ex­pect­ing to leave the fa­cil­ity early next week, his spokesman said yes­ter­day. — AFP

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