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Blatter forced to tell all

(Reuters) Thirteen members of the 24-man committee had demanded an investigation into the state of FIFA’s finances following the collapse last year of the ruling body’s long-term marketing partner ISL-ISMM. The fact they appear to have got their own way against the president’s wishes could prove to be a big blow for Blatter, who will be 66 on Sunday.

The audit committee will be able to call on independent experts to assess FIFA’s finances, which could show up detail that has not previously come to light.

FIFA general secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen, under instruction to make no comment other than a brief statement, said only that the meeting lasted for three hours.

“The committee decided to set up an internal ad-hoc audit committee,” he added. “The full details will be made known at Saturday’s press conference.”

All he added under questioning was that 23 members of the 24-man executive were present, with Isaac Sasso-Sasso of Costa Rica missing the meeting through illness.

That could have proved significant for the anti-Blatter faction on the executive. It was understood that 13 members of the executive were in favour of an investigation until Wednesday when Angel Maria Villar Llona of Spain publicly stated his support of Blatter’s stewardship of FIFA.

If that was the case, any vote would have been split 12-12 with the president having a casting vote against the decision. But with Sasso-Sasso absent, the result could have been 12-11 in favour of the investigation.

UEFA president Lennart Johansson, one of the 13 members who wanted the investigation along with vice presidents Issa Hayatou and Dr Chung Mong-Joon said afterwards: “I’m satisfied, it was a good meeting, but the president will make a full statement in due course.”

It is not yet known what the make-up of the committee will be, although that will be decided on Friday. What is known is that no members of the finance committee will take part in the the audit investigation.

Unusually, Blatter did not come out to meet the press straight after the meeting, but the understanding was that he had had “a bad meeting”.

The extraordinary session of the executive was convened to discuss FIFA’s finances and followed Tuesday’s finance committee, which surprisingly reported that FIFA had an operating profit of 71 million Swiss francs ($42.31m) for 2001 with equity of 154m Swiss francs and 367m Swiss francs in reserve.

It was expected that FIFA would announce some kind of operating loss as a result of the ISL collapse, reportedly with debts of around 300m Swiss francs.

The chairman of the finance committee, Julio Grondona, also reported that the six-man committee agreed the details unanimously, but that was hotly disputed privately by two members of the committee on Wednesday.