Scandal-hit world governing body Fifa has been warned by International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach that only urgent and deep-rooted reform will prevent football's credibility being besmirched irreparably.
The IOC’s statement yesterday followed another harrowing day in the Fifa epilogue after outgoing president Sepp Blatter, UEFA boss Michel Platini and Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke were all suspended.
World football was thrown into meltdown as its three most powerful men were banned from all football-related activity for 90 days by Fifa’s ethics committee, as investigations into their conduct amid allegations of corruption continue.
The developments severely diminish the hopes of Blatter remaining in charge of Fifa until February’s presidential election, while Platini’s hopes of succeeding the 79-year-old lie in tatters.
“Enough is enough. We hope that now, finally, everyone at Fifa has at last understood that they cannot continue to remain passive,” read the IOC statement. “They must act swiftly to regain credibility because you cannot forever dissociate the credibility of Fifa from the credibility of football.
“They must do two things immediately: they must accelerate and deepen the reform process in order to comply with accountability, transparency and all the principles of good governance.
“They should also be open for a credible external presidential candidate of high integrity, to accomplish the necessary reforms and bring back stability and credibility to Fifa.”
The central thrust of the ethics committee investigations centre on two controversies: Fifa’s 2005 sale of television rights to now-banned former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner and an alleged £1.3m payment by Blatter to Platini in 2011.
Blatter and Platini are able to appeal against their suspension to Fifa’s appeals committee but would stay banned until any appeal hearing is held. As it stands the suspensions are set to end on February 20, six days before the Fifa presidential election.
Valcke was put on leave last month after being embroiled in allegations relating to black market tickets sales for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Chung Mong-joon, meanwhile, another would-be successor to Blatter, was handed a six-year suspension and fined 100,000 Swiss francs for violations relating to South Korea’s bid for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
A statement issued by Blatter’s legal representatives said: “President Blatter looks forward to the opportunity to present evidence that will demonstrate that he did not engage in any misconduct, criminal or otherwise.”
Platini, who has rejected all of the allegations made against him, described yesterday’s events as “farcical”, while an emergency meeting of Uefa’s executive committee has been arranged for Thursday 15 October.
“More than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies,” he said.
Cameroon’s Issa Hayatou, the head of Africa’s football confederation, will act as Fifa’s interim president. Despite initially saying they would ignore the ban, Uefa last night moved closer to complying. Spain’s Angel Maria Villar would be interim Uefa president.