'Cooperating' Blatter will remain FIFA president

Lawyers say Blatter, currently being investigated by Swiss authorities, tells his staff he has done nothing wrong.

    'Cooperating' Blatter will remain FIFA president
    Blatter won his fifth term as FIFA president last May [Reuters]

    Sepp Blatter has told his staff he has done "nothing illegal or improper" and will remain FIFA president.

    Blatter was back at FIFA headquarters on Monday, three days after being interrogated by Swiss investigators at the scandal-battered governing body's headquarters.

    Blatter is expected to hand over power in February when an emergency election is held, triggered by the president's resignation statement four days after being re-elected for a fifth, four-year term in May.

    But the 79-year-old Blatter does not appear to be planning any sudden exit despite being the subject of a criminal investigation over his management of world football.

    "President Blatter spoke to FIFA staff today and 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 of FIFA," Blatter's attorney, Richard Cullen, said in a statement.

    One minute FIFA

    Blatter was questioned by Swiss investigators on Friday about why FIFA paid about $2m to UEFA President Michel Platini in 2011 for work supposedly carried out at least nine years earlier.

    Blatter denied wrongdoing and Platini, who is also a FIFA vice president, was only questioned as a witness.

    "President Blatter on Friday shared with the Swiss authorities the fact that Mr Platini had a valuable employment relationship with FIFA serving as an adviser to the president beginning in 1998," Cullen said.

    "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."

    The statement did not reference allegations Blatter undervalued the awarding of World Cup rights to former vice president Jack Warner.

    "Because of the continuing investigation, President Blatter will answer no further questions at this time," Cullen's statement concluded.

    As FIFA was attempting to contain the latest escalation in the corruption scandal, meetings shaping leaders of the future who can potentially salvage the body's reputation were being held at headquarters.

    Statement:

    "President Blatter spoke to FIFA staff today and 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 of FIFA.

    "On the [UEFA President Michel] Platini matter, President Blatter on Friday shared with the Swiss authorities the fact that Mr Platini had a valuable employment relationship with FIFA serving as an adviser to the president beginning in 1998.

    "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.

    "Because of the continuing investigation President Blatter will answer no further questions at this time."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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