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Sports

Blatter's reign as Fifa boss ends amid accusations

media Fifa boss Sepp Blatter (left) was relieved of his duties while UEFA President Michel Platini was suspended for 90 days by Fifa's ethics committee. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Sepp Blatter's 17 year stranglehold over world football's governing body Fifa ended on Thursday when he was at first suspended by the ethics committee and then relieved of his duties. Issa Hayatou, the veteran head of the Confederation of African football, will take over as the planet's most powerful football administrator.

Infighting at the heart of world football's governing body Fifa exploded into public view on Thursday after Sepp Blatter was sacked.

The ethics committee's decision to provisionally suspend the 79-year-old for 90 days started his descent.

Within an hour, Fifa released a statement saying Blatter had been relieved of all his duties.

"In accordance with Fifa’s code of ethics, Joseph S. Blatter was relieved of all his duties as Fifa president following the decision of the independent chairman of the adjudicatory chamber of the ethics committee to provisionally ban him from all football activities on a national and international level."

Issa Hayatou, the head of the Confederation of African Football and the most senior Fifa vice-president, was installed as Fifa boss on an interim basis;

The ethics committee meeting in Zurich began its inquiry into Blatter after Swiss authorities opened investigations into his alleged part in the sale at well below market prices of TV rights for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups to the Carribean Football Union.

Swiss lawyers are also investigating a payment of 1.8 million euros to Michel Platini, the head of European football's governing body Uefa.

The cash went into Platini's account in 2011 even though the Frenchman carried out the wok as a special advisor to Blatter in 2002. Both men deny any wrong doing.

But Blatter came out fighting accusing the ethics committee of not following its own rules by not allowing him a personal hearing.

"Further, the ethics committee based its decision on a misunderstanding of the actions of the attorney general in Switzerland, which has opened an investigation but brought no charge against the president. In fact, the prosecutors will be obliged by law to dismiss the case if their investigation, barely two weeks old, does not establish sufficient evidence.

"President Blatter looks forward to opportunity to present evidence that will demonstrate he did not engage in any misconduct,” said the statement from his lawyers.

The end of Blatter was as swift as it was unexpected.

In an interview with the German magazine Bunte published on Thursday, he said he intended to carry on as Fifa head until the presidential elections on 26 February. It was wishful thinking but indicative of his defiance.

Last weekend leading sponsors Coca Cola, Visa, Budweiser and McDonalds had called for his immediate departure. But he derided their demands by highlighting the support offered to him by Addidas, Hyundai and Gazprom.

Platini who had been anointed to succeed Blatter as Fifa boss may also have suffered a body blow from Thursday's decision. The ethics committee stressed that its provisional suspension did not rule him out from the Fifa presidential election race in February.

Further down the food chain, the ethics committe also banned Chung Mong-Joon, like Platini a candidate for the presidential vacancy.

The South Korean tycoon was also fined 91,000 euros and would be automatically ruled out of the presidential race.

He was found to have flouted rules while lobbying for South Korea's bid for the 2022 World Cup which was awarded to Qatar in 2010 vote. Chung has threatened to take legal action over the ban.

Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke, already ordered to leave the organisation over a separate ticketing scandal, was also suspended for 90 days.

Fifa's crisis has been mounting since May when US authorities issued charges against 14 Fifa officials and sports marketing executives over more than 130 million euros in bribes given for broadcasting and marketing contracts.

Seven Fifa officials were detained at a Zurich hotel two days before Blatter was reelected for a fifth term on 30 May.

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