By Simon Evans
ZURICH (Reuters) – Cameroon’s Issa Hayatou will take over as interim FIFA president following the provisional suspension of Sepp Blatter in a corruption scandal, soccer’s world governing body said on Thursday.
Spain’s Angel Maria Villar was in line to take over at European governing body UEFA after its president Michel Platini was also handed a provisional 90-day ban by FIFA’s Ethics Committee.
FIFA’s statutes say that the most senior vice-president will stand-in for the president of the organisation. That position is currently held by Hayatou, who has been president of the Confederation African Football (CAF) since 1988 and a member of FIFA’s executive committee since 1990.
Hayatou, 69, said in a statement published by FIFA that he had taken over “amid extraordinary circumstances.”
“I pledge that I will dedicate my best efforts to the organisation, the member associations, our employees, our valued partners, and football fans everywhere,” he said.
The Cameroonian will have to steer the organisation towards an election next February to replace Blatter, while Swiss and U.S. authorities continue their investigations into corruption at the highest levels of the sport.
“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,” Hayatou said.
“Football has never enjoyed greater support throughout the world, and that is something everyone associated with FIFA should be proud of.”
In 2011, Hayatou was reprimanded by the International Olympics Committee’s ethics commission after he confirmed to them that he was paid by FIFA’s former marketing agency International Sport and Leisure in 1995.
The IOC said such an action constituted a conflict of interest. Hayatou denied any personal gain or wrongdoing.
Spanish Football Federation president Villar is positioned to take over from Platini at UEFA, as he is the European governing body’s highest-ranking vice-president.
Villar has been widely reported to be facing a FIFA ethics investigation himself related to Spain’s joint bid with Portugal for the 2018 World Cup. FIFA’s ethics committee is not allowed to confirm or deny the existence of any investigations.
(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)