Issa Hayatou is to become acting president of Fifa following the suspension of Sepp Blatter for 90 days during which he will be relieved of all his duties, though he said he would not stand for permanent office.
Blatter’s controversial 17-year reign was all but ended on Thursday when Fifa’s ethics committee suspended him pending a criminal investigation into allegations the Swiss mis-sold a World Cup TV rights contract to the disgraced former Fifa official Jack Warner in 2006 and made a “disloyal payment” of £1.3m to Michel Platini in 2011. Blatter and Platini deny any wrongdoing.
The world governing body said in a statement: “Issa Hayatou, as the longest-serving vice-president on Fifa’s executive committee, will serve as acting president of Fifa.”
In 2011 Hayatou, president of the Confederation of African Football since 1998,was disciplined by the International Olympic Committee over his role in an alleged bribery scandal at Fifa.
He was issued with a reprimand after the BBC’s Panorama claimed he received about $20,000 (£13,000) from the now defunct sports marketing company ISL in 1995. Hayatou, an IOC member, denied any corruption and said the money was a gift for his confederation.
Hayatou, 69, who in 2002 ran against Blatter for the Fifa presidency, put out a statement insisting: “I will serve only on an interim basis. A new president will be chosen by the extraordinary congress on 26 February 2016. I myself will not be a candidate for that position.”
Along with Blatter, the Uefa president, Platini, who was the favourite to succeed his mentor until he too become embroiled in corruption allegations which he denies, has been handed an identical sanction, dealing a huge blow to his presidential ambitions.
In addition, the Fifa secretary general Jérôme Valcke, who has already been put on leave over allegations concerning the sale of World Cup tickets, has now been provisionally suspended for 90 days. Valcke has “unequivocally denied” any wrongdoing.
That would mean the suspensions of all three men would end five days before the February congress at which Blatter’s successor is due to be elected.
The former Fifa vice-president Chung Mong-joon, who had threatened to sue Blatter while claiming that he was being targeted on spurious grounds by the ethics committee to force him out of the presidential race, has been banned for six years and fined £67,000. “The bans come into force immediately,” said Fifa.