ZURICH (Reuters) – Suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter, his federation mired in a corruption crisis, is being treated by doctors for stress and has been ordered to stay at home, his former public relations officer said on Friday.
The 79-year-old Swiss, who was last month suspended for 90 days by the Ethics Committee of soccer’s world governing body, is under “tremendous pressure” and has been ordered to stay at home, Klaus Stoehlker, a close confidant, told Reuters by telephone.
“He is not in hospital, he was never in hospital, but he is under control of the doctors,” Stoehlker said.
FIFA, which is based in Zurich, has been in turmoil since 14 soccer officials and sports marketing executives, including two FIFA vice-presidents, were indicted by the United States in May.
Since then, Swiss authorities have opened their own investigation into FIFA’s activities, and the Ethics Committee has suspended both Blatter and Michel Platini, the president of the European governing body UEFA who had been favourite to replace him, for 90 days.
“He (Blatter) is under medical evaluation, the doctors took him out for a few days, the doctors expect to him be back (in circulation) around Thursday or Friday of next week,” said Stoehlker.
“He is under tremendous pressure from so many sides and perhaps this is a little bit difficult for a man who is not the youngest. So they took him out for a few days. I saw him this morning and he will recover.”
Blatter, who often impresses observers with his boundless energy, has been FIFA president since 1998.
He won a fifth mandate in May but, as pressure mounted, performed an about-turn four days later and called a new Congress, which will take place in Zurich in February, to choose his successor.
In September, the Swiss attorney general’s office initiated criminal proceedings against Blatter over a 2 million Swiss franc ($2.1 million) payment from FIFA to Platini in 2011 for work carried out by the Frenchman between 1998 and 2002.
Both men, who are suspended pending a full Ethics Committee investigation, have denied any wrongdoing. Blatter has said he still hopes to take part in the congress in February.
(Reporting by Simon Evans in Miami; Writing by Joshua Franklin and Brian Homewood; Editing by Kevin Liffey)