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Suspended FIFA President Appears Before Ethics Committee

  • VOA News

FILE - FIFA President Sepp Blatter addresses a news conference at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.

FILE - FIFA President Sepp Blatter addresses a news conference at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.

Suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter appeared Thursday before the ethics committee of the global soccer organization to face questions about bribery.

Blatter was expected to tell the four judges at FIFA's Zurich headquarters that he is innocent of any wrongdoing. Blatter has described the hearing as "an inquisition."

The judges are considering whether Blatter was responding to bribery when he approved a $2 million payment from FIFA to the president of the European football organization, Michel Platini, in 2011.

Platini's case is being heard on Friday, but Platini has said he will not appear in person. His lawyers say he is boycotting the proceedings because he believes the judges have already made up their minds. Platini says his suspension is a political maneuver designed to keep him from running for the FIFA presidency.

His attorneys are expected to show up for the court date.

Platini had been seen as the frontrunner to succeed Blatter, until the bribery allegations were revealed earlier this year. Swiss officials have opened a criminal investigation into the matter.

Blatter and Platini were suspended in October, engulfed by the deepening corruption scandal. The 90-day provisional suspensions are expected to end in January. But if the ethics panel finds against the two men, they could face much longer bans from the sport.

Also Thursday, the Swiss Justice Ministry said it had frozen some $50 million in accounts suspected to be linked to the alleged FIFA bribes.

On Wednesday, Salvadoran officials arrested Reynaldo Vasquez, former head of El Salvador's football federation. Authorities said he was apprehended in the Costa del Sol area of San Salvador. Vasquez is wanted in the United States on suspicion of receiving bribes.

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