Defiant Sepp Blatter Tells FIFA Staff He Won't Quit as President

Extraordinary FIFA Executive Committee Meeting

FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter.

Photographer: Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images
  • UEFA head Platini denies wrongdoing, says payment tied to job
  • FIFA president tells employees that he's done nothing illegal

FIFA President Joseph “Sepp” Blatter defiantly told staff of soccer’s governing body that he’s done nothing illegal and won’t quit his post despite a Swiss investigation into his dealings with other officials.

The 79-year-old “informed the staff that he was cooperating with the authorities, reiterated that he had done nothing illegal or improper and stated that he would remain as president,” according to an e-mail from his attorneys.

Switzerland’s attorney general said Friday that he is looking into suspected criminal mismanagement and misappropriation by Blatter, who has controlled FIFA for a 17-year span marked by growing allegations of corruption and bribery. The probe jeopardizes Blatter’s plan to remain until a new chief is elected in February, and also may derail UEFA head Michel Platini’s run to succeed Blatter. Both men were questioned Friday.

Platini Monday wrote to European soccer governing bodies, saying he hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing.

The Swiss authorities, while disclosing criminal suspicions against Blatter, haven’t brought charges. They said they are exploring allegations that Blatter made an illicit payment of 2 million Swiss francs ($2 million) to Platini. The Frenchman was spoken to as a person of interest, they said.

“President Blatter on Friday shared with the Swiss authorities the fact that Mr. Platini had a valuable employment relationship with FIFA serving as an advisor to the president beginning in 1998,” according to the statement from Blatter’s attorneys. “He explained to the prosecutors that the payments were valid compensation and nothing more and were properly accounted for within FIFA including the withholding of Social Security contributions.”

Platini, who’s had a difficult relationship with Blatter, echoed his comments about the transaction, which the Frenchman said was linked to a full-time job that ran from 1998 to 2002.

“I was employed by FIFA to work on a wide range of matters relating to football,” Platini said. “The remuneration was agreed at the time and after initial payments were made, the final outstanding amount of 2 million Swiss francs was paid in February of 2011.”

Platini’s letter says that he has approached FIFA’s ethics committee “to request that I may come forward and provide whatever additional information may be needed in order to clear this matter up.”

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