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   31 May, 2002 | 1151 IST



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Zen-Ruffinen gone, legal action stops

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Michel Zen-Ruffinen stepped down as FIFA general secretary on Friday and legal action in a Swiss court against Sepp Blatter, re-elected president of world soccer's governing body two days ago, was halted.

FIFA spokesman Keith Cooper told a news conference that 11 executive committee members, including UEFA president Lennart Johansson, had agreed at an executive meeting that their legal action should be withdrawn immediately.

Sepp Blatter (l) and Zen-Ruffinen They had alleged misuse of funds by Blatter after Zen-Ruffinen had severely criticised Blatter's running of FIFA and alleged "financial irregularities". The legal action was started on May 10.

Blatter, empowered by a landslide triumph at Wednesday's FIFA Congress, had vowed to act swiftly to remove Zen-Ruffinen, whom he once described as "like a son to me".

Zen-Ruffinen was named as Blatter's right-hand man after the Swiss 66-year-old beat Johansson, head of European soccer's ruling body, for the top job in world soccer in 1998.

Zen-Ruffinen, in charge of FIFA's day-to-day operations at the World Cup which opens on Friday, will leave at the end of the tournament, the Zurich-based organisation announced.

"The FIFA executive committee meeting in Seoul has reached an agreement with the general secretary with regard to his contractual relationship. It has been mutually agreed that that relationship will end on July 4, 2002," FIFA communications director Cooper said.

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