July 31, 2020 / 8:28 AM / 8 days ago

Former FIFA president Blatter calls for Infantino to be suspended

FILE PHOTO: FIFA President Gianni Infantino gestures during a UEFA Congress at Beurs van Berlage Conference Centre, Amsterdam, Netherlands, March 3, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

BERN (Reuters) - Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter has called for his successor, Gianni Infantino, to be suspended by the global soccer body after criminal proceedings were opened against Infantino in Switzerland.

Swiss authorities said on Thursday that proceedings had been launched against the current FIFA boss by a special prosecutor looking into meetings he had with Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber. Lauber and Infantino have denied wrongdoing.

“For me, the situation is clear, that the FIFA ethics committee has to open a case against Mr Infantino and so it has to suspend him,” Blatter, 84, said in a statement to Reuters.

FIFA did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Blatter’s statement.

Blatter, who was FIFA president for 17 years, himself was suspended and later banned by FIFA’s ethics committee after he became the subject of criminal proceedings in Switzerland in 2015.

The investigation is still ongoing and Blatter, who has denied wrongdoing, has not been charged. It centred on a payment of two million Swiss francs (1.6 million pounds) made in 2011 to then UEFA president Michel Platini with Blatter’s approval for work the Frenchman had done a decade earlier.

Blatter was banned for eight years, reduced to six on appeal, and Platini also for eight years, reduced to four. Platini denied wrongdoing.

The FIFA ethics committee is divided into an investigatory and adjudicatory chamber, which since 2017 have been headed by Colombian Maria Claudia Rojas and Greek Vassilios Skouris respectively.

They replaced Swiss Cornel Borbely and German Hans-Joachim Eckert who were ousted when the decision-making FIFA Council decided not to renew their mandates.

Writing by Brian Homewood, Editing by Timothy Heritage and Christian Radnedge

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