A series of dramatic announcements at the Zurich-based Fifa, the world football governing body, are putting the organisation’s embattled Swiss head back into the media spotlight, although he will face no official probe.

 

 

"/> A series of dramatic announcements at the Zurich-based Fifa, the world football governing body, are putting the organisation’s embattled Swiss head back into the media spotlight, although he will face no official probe.

 

 

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FOOTBALL

Blatter facing renewed scrutiny amid Fifa turmoil

A series of dramatic announcements at the Zurich-based Fifa, the world football governing body, are putting the organisation’s embattled Swiss head back into the media spotlight, although he will face no official probe.

 

 

Blatter facing renewed scrutiny amid Fifa turmoil

Sepp Blatter, the 75-year-old Swiss who has served as Fifa president since 1998, was cleared of corruption allegations by an internal ethics committee last week, a few days before an election to decide whether Blatter should remain at the helm of the football organisation.

In a last-minute development, the Fifa ethics committee also announced it had temporarily suspended two other top officials, including Mohamed bin Hammam, who until a few days ago was the sole challenger to Blatter in the June 1 vote.

Both bin Hammam, who had withdrawn from the race just hours before the hearing with the ethics panel, and Jack Warner, a Fifa vice president, were placed under internal investigation with accusations of bribing voters during the election campaign, Fifa said. If found guilty, they could face a lifetime ban from football-related activities. Both have denied wrongdoing.

Bin Hammam had asked the ethics committee to investigate Blatter, arguing the Swiss knew of alleged bribe attempts and did not take action. On Sunday, the committee said there was no evidence against the current Fifa president, who is now standing unopposed for re-election for his fourth term at the helm of the organisation.

Fifa and Blatter have both routinely come under scrutiny over the years in a series of alleged bribery cases. In 2006, Andrew Jennings, a Scottish investigative reporter who runs the website Transparency in Sport,  wrote a book detailing a string of misdeeds at the organisation. Various newspaper editorials in Switzerland and abroad have centred criticism on Blatter, who has always denied any wrongdoing. 

Blatter, born in the town of Visp, near the famous Matterhorn, served as a Fifa General Secretary from 1981 to 1998 when he was elected as the eighth president of the organisation. He had already served Fifa in various positions for twenty-three years. An active footballer from 1948 to 1971, he played for the Swiss amateur league in the top division.

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SPORT

IN PICTURES: Runners take on Swiss glacier race despite melt

Hundreds of runners braved a lung-busting ascent into the Alps in Switzerland's Glacier 3000 Run on Saturday, albeit on a shortened course due to summer heatwaves melting the ice.

IN PICTURES: Runners take on Swiss glacier race despite melt

The event’s 14th edition was back without limitations after being cancelled in 2020 due to Covid-19 and run in 2021 with restrictions imposed due to the pandemic.

The race is normally run over 26.2 kilometres but was contested on a slightly modified 25.2km course this year due to the glacier melting, with the last pass over its surface shortened.

Runners make their way under a ski lift  on the glacier run in Switzerland

Runners make their way under a ski lift during the last kilometres of the Glacier 3000 run. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP)

“The accelerated melting of the top layer of the glacier has created a camber and a soft layer which the runner sinks into,” said race director Oliver Hermann.

“Rather than intervening to flatten the track, we preferred to deviate the course.”

Runners on last stretch of Switzerland's glacier run

On the final stretch of this year’s shortened course. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP)

The finish line is 1,886 metres higher than the start, at nearly 3,000 metres up in the mountains by the Scex Rouge peak.

READ ALSO: Heatwaves close off classic Swiss and Italian Alpine hiking routes

The route begins in the jet-set ski resort town of Gstaad, at 1,050 metres above sea level.

It passes through forests, green mountain pastures before heading into rocky lunar-like landscapes and taking in the Tsanfleuron Glacier.

The course follows the Saane river upstream for 15 km before climbing up 1,800 metres over the remaining 10 km to the finish line — at an altitude of 2,936 metres.

A couple hold their hands while walking on the melting Tsanfleuron Glacier above Les Diablerets

A couple hold hands while walking on the melting Tsanfleuron Glacier above Les Diablerets, where the Glacier 3000 Run took place on August 6th. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP)

Some 311 men and 98 women completed the individual course, while 50 two-person teams also took part.

READ ALSO: Why Switzerland’s glaciers are melting faster than usual this summer

The first man to finish was Kenyan competitor Geoffrey Ndungu in two hours and 17 minutes. He had finished in second place last year.

He was followed by compatriot Abraham Ebenyo Ekwam in 2:21 and then Switzerland’s Jonathan Schmid in 2:23.

Victoria Kreuzer was the first woman to finish, in 2:46, ahead of Nicole Schindler and Pascale Rebsamen — a Swiss clean sweep.

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