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