FIFA President Sepp Blatter was suspended for 90 days on Wednesday pending an ethics committee investigation, Sky News reports.
Klaus Stoehlker, a past adviser to Blatter, told Sky News that the committee made the ruling pending further investigations against the head of world soccer's governing body by Switzerland’s attorney general.
Blatter has been accused of making a “disloyal” payment of nearly $2 million to Michael Platini, head of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). The payment was "allegedly made for work performed between January 1999 and June 2002,” Sky News reports.
The committee met this week after Switzerland opened criminal proceedings in the case, and their decision is a “pending” verdict, Stoehlker said.
The suspension is the longest that FIFA’s ethics committee can hand down while carrying out an investigation, Sky News reports.
Platini has said the payment "relates to work which I carried out under a contract" and he "was pleased to have been able to clarify all matters" to the authorities, according to Sky News.
The announcement of the suspension came hours after Blatter criticized the criminal investigation, calling it “outrageous.”
"The situation is not pleasant,” Blatter, who has led FIFA since 1998, told the German magazine Bunte. "I am being condemned without there being any evidence for wrongdoing on my part.”
Blatter – whose office has been searched – has also resisted calls from worldwide sponsors to resign his post, Sky News reports.
Blatter was elected to a fifth term as FIFA’s president in June, but plans to remain in office until his successor is elected in February.
"I will fight until 26 February. For myself. For FIFA,” he said. “I am convinced that evil will come to light and good will prevail."
Meanwhile, Chung Mong-Joon, a former FIFA vice-president who is running to succeed Blatter, said he plans to sue him for “embezzlement,” according to Sky News.