April 8, 2002
NEW YORK (AP) -- The regional governing body of soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean called for FIFA general secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen to resign or be suspended from all duties
not related to the World Cup.
The call comes amid an increasingly bitter campaign for the presidency of FIFA, in which incumbent Sepp Blatter is opposed by Issa Hayatou of Cameroon. CONCACAF officials say Zen-Ruffinen, FIFA's No. 2 official, may have turned against his boss to support Hayatou.
In a statement issued from FIFA's headquarters in Switzerland, Zen-Ruffinen said he had ``in no way made any such move'' and that he would consider ``appropriate action to defend himself against persons spreading such unfounded allegations.''
The dispute involves Mexican Edgardo Codesal's attempt to run for the presidency of the Confederation of North and Central American and Caribbean Football. That was blocked by CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer, who cited a confederation rule prohibiting confederation employees from running for the office.
Blazer and CONCACAF president Jack Warner supported Blatter's run to succeed Joao Havelange, who had been FIFA's president since 1974. Hayatou is backed by Lennart Johansson, the president of European soccer's governing body, who unsuccessfully opposed Blatter four years ago.
Blazer said the executive committee of FIFA, soccer's world governing body, decided unanimously on March 8 that Codesal's candidacy was a matter for CONCACAF to deal with.
Zen-Ruffinen faxed a letter to CONCACAF on Friday saying FIFA has been asked by a majority of the executive committee to convene a meeting of the FIFA Bureau for Legal Matters to consider Codesal's candidacy.
``Hayatou's involvement in this issue, looking to destabilize Blatter's support, is quite clear and Zen-Ruffinen had already tipped his hand by having solicited Blazer's and Warner's support for a Hayatou candidacy,'' CONCACAF said in a statement.
The meeting had been scheduled for Tuesday in Zurich but was called off Monday.
``The FIFA president stated that only the full executive committee had the right to revert to a previous executive committee decision,'' Zen-Ruffinen said.
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