UPDATE 9:23 a.m. EDT: Issa Hayatou, president of the Confederation of African Football, will step in for Blatter and serve as the interim President of FIFA. He released a statement Thursday morning indicating he intended to serve on a temporary basis only and would not seek election in FIFA's vote for a new president scheduled for February.
"I pledge that I will dedicate my best efforts to the organization, the member associations, our employees, our valued partners, and football fans everywhere," Hayatou said in the statement. "FIFA remains committed to the reform process, which is critical to reclaiming public trust. We will also continue to cooperate fully with authorities and follow the internal investigation wherever it leads."
Sepp Blatter has fired back at FIFA, condemning the decision to levy a 90-day suspension on the embattled president of global soccer's governing body. Blatter's lawyers released a statement Thursday saying FIFA's ethics committee did not follow the organization's own rules, claiming the president had a right to be heard.
"President Blatter was disappointed that the Ethics Committee did not follow the Code of Ethics and Disciplinary Code, both of which provide for an opportunity to be heard," the statement read, via the BBC. "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 the opportunity to present evidence that will demonstrate that he did not engage in any misconduct, criminal or otherwise."
Blatter and Union of European Football Associations chief Michel Platini were suspended earlier Thursday for 90 days by FIFA after their names emerged in the Swiss corruption investigation. The Swiss attorney general announced last month it had opened an investigation concerning a "disloyal payment" of 2 million Swiss francs, or $2.1 million, made by Blatter to Platini in 2011. In response, Blatter and Platini were barred, effective immediately, from all "football activities on a national and international level," FIFA said in a statement. The New York Times reported both Blatter and Platini were considering appealing their suspensions.
Those close to Blatter/Platini say they will appeal and there are options; FIFA appeals committee plus CAS. So this is a long way from over.
— Sam Borden (@SamBorden) October 8, 2015
Blatter is also under investigation for signing a television-rights contract, alleged to be "unfavorable" to FIFA, with Jack Warner, former head of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football. Warner has been banned from the sport for life by FIFA due to his repeated misconduct.
Blatter, 79, headed up FIFA as the organization was the center of a massive corruption scandal that broke in May. The U.S. attorney general in late May charged 14 officials, nine of whom were current or former FIFA executives, with an array of offenses including racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering and bribery.
Blatter won re-election as FIFA president soon after, but later called for a fresh election and announced he would not run. The new vote is scheduled for February.
Breaking: statement from Sepp Blatter's lawyers: pic.twitter.com/zfHsYyVRb3
— Richard Conway (@richard_conway) October 8, 2015