More FIFA Suspensions Amid Probe

     (CN) – Three more FIFA officials were suspended Thursday, marking the latest development in the soccer authority’s growing corruption saga.
     The suspension of Federation Internationale de Football Association President Sepp Blatter comes less than two weeks after Swiss authorities said they were investigating the embattled soccer chief on suspicion of “criminal mismanagement and misappropriation.”
     Blatter, who announced his resignation in June, has been banned from all soccer activities for 90 days, FIFA said Thursday.
     FIFA Vice President Michel Platini was also suspended Thursday for 90 days. Platini is the head of Europe’s FIFA confederation and was a top candidate to replace Blatter.
     Soccer’s governing body said the bans are related to ongoing internal investigations. They can be extended by 45 days, according to FIFA.
     In addition to the two 90-day suspensions, FIFA said Thursday that South Korean soccer official Chung Mong-joon has been banned for six years. The soccer authority said he has been found guilty of conduct violations related to the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
     Fourteen people, including high-ranking FIFA officials, were indicted in May on corruption charges announced by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, including accusations that they took kickbacks for the broadcast of international soccer tournaments. Lynch accused the defendants of having “corrupted the world of soccer.”
     An election to decide Blatter’s replacement will be held Feb. 26, 2016, according to FIFA. In the meantime, Issa Hayatou will act as interim president of soccer’s governing body.
     Hayatou said in a statement Thursday that he will not be a candidate for Blatter’s permanent replacement. He promised his “best efforts” until a new president is chosen.
     “FIFA remains committed to the reform process, which is critical to reclaiming public trust. We will also continue to cooperate fully with authorities and follow the internal investigation wherever it leads,” Hayatou said.
     Hayatou was appointed as acting president in accordance with organization bylaws, according to FIFA’s website.
     Last month, FIFA said that secretary general Jerome Valcke was placed on leave after claims about World Cup tickets being sold above face value. Thursday’s announcement clarifies that Valcke’s suspension is also 90 days.
     A class action lawsuit filed in September claims that FIFA made hundreds of millions of dollars by overcharging U.S. fans who bought tickets to the 2014 Men’s World Cup in Brazil. Lead plaintiff Vicky Palivos said she paid $736 per ticket – $2,944 total for four tickets – each of which had a face value of $135.

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