The ethics committee of football's (soccer's) governing body FIFA has suspended embattled President Sepp Blatter and his potential successor for 90 days.
The committee took the action Thursday against Blatter and Michel Platini, head of the Union of European Football Association (UEFA), less than two weeks after Swiss prosecutors opened a criminal investigation against Blatter involving a $2 million payment to Platini in 2011.
FIFA said Blatter was not allowed at this point to represent the organization in any capacity.
In response, Blatter's lawyers said the committee that suspended him failed to follow its own rules by not letting him give evidence. They also said the suspension was based on a "misunderstanding" of the case launched by the Swiss attorney general.
"President Blatter was disappointed that the [FIFA] ethics committee did not follow the code of ethics and disciplinary code, both of which provide for an opportunity to be heard," according to a statement issued by Blatter's lawyers.
Issa Hayatou, longtime head of the Confederation of African Football, will take over as acting president. Hayatou was once reprimanded for misconduct by the International Olympic Committee.
The 90-day suspension imposed on Platini will likely derail his bid to succeed Blatter when elections are held in February. The retired French star denied any wrongdoing earlier Thursday when word leaked of his suspension.
The ethics committee also handed down a 90-day suspension to FIFA Secretary-General Jerome Valcke, and banned former vice president Chung Mong-joon for six years and imposed a $100,000 fine. Valcke was already on leave from FIFA over a separate allegation involving a ticket-selling scheme during the 2014 World Cup.
FIFA has been embroiled in scandal after 14 FIFA officials were arrested in Zurich back in May and charged in the United States with nearly 50 counts of corruption, including racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering. Swiss officials have also opened up a separate criminal investigation involving FIFA's selection of Russia and Qatar to host the World Cup tournaments in 2018 and 2022 respectively.
Some material for this report came from AP, AFP and Reuters.