FIFA president Sepp Blatter has returned to work at the soccer world governing body’s headquarters after being questioned by the Swiss Attorney General’s Office on Friday September 25. Blatter has said he will remain as president of FIFA and reiterated “he had done nothing illegal or improper” after criminal proceedings were opened against him according to The Guardian.
The Guardian also reports that Blatter is awaiting a possible announcement from the FIFA ethics committee on whether he will be suspended as a result of the Swiss investigation into possible criminal mismanagement and misappropriation of FIFA money.
The Guardian report also states that Michel Platini is coming under increasing pressure to fully explain the circumstances of a £1.35m payment he received from FIFA in 2011 for work done more than nine years previously. The UEFA president is standing in the election in February to succeed Sepp Blatter but is now under investigation from FIFA’s ethics committee–as is Blatter himself.
Reform campaigners say unless Platini can publicly clarify the details surrounding the payment he should withdraw from the election. The Swiss attorney general’s officers interviewed Platini as a witness on Friday, after opening criminal proceedings against Blatter.
According to the BBC, Platini, 60, has written a letter to UEFA members denying any wrongdoing. In a statement released through his lawyers, Blatter said a £1.5m payment made to Platini, the head of European football’s governing body in 2011, was “valid compensation and nothing more.” He was interviewed by officers from the attorney general’s office and stressed that the payment had been “fully declared” to the authorities.
Platini said he was “aware that these events may harm my image and reputation” and released a statement for “reasons of transparency.” FIFA, which has been hit by a string of corruption allegations in recent years, has said it is cooperating with the investigation.
In a statement published by ABCNews, 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 soccer.
“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 via ABC News.
“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,” via ABC News.
The statement did not reference allegations that Blatter undervalued the awarding of World Cup rights to former vice president Jack Warner though.