FIFA president Sepp Blatter has lashed out at UEFA and the European Union for spearheading a campaign to remove him from the top job within football’s world governing body.
Blatter is currently serving a 90-day suspension handed down to him by FIFA’s Ethics Committee for making an alleged “disloyal payment” to UEFA president Michel Platini in 2011, as well as negotiating an unfavourable television contract involving former vice president Jack Warner.
The 79-year-old – who will step down from his role in February 2016 despite being re-elected in May – is appealing that decision, and says it is just another ploy from outside influences to remove him from FIFA.
“I became the primary target of the attack because for three years, and specifically after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, UEFA did not want me as the president,” he told Russian news agency TASS.
“It was a conducted attack on the FIFA president. But the other confederations, they were with me. Only UEFA tried to bring me away. They did not succeed. Even with this tsunami I was re-elected as president.
“And who has been involved in this attacking situation towards the FIFA president? Politics. The European Union. That is political interference in sport.
“But you cannot destroy FIFA. FIFA is not the Swiss bank. FIFA is not a commercial company. So, what they have done together with the Swiss, they have created this attack towards FIFA and the president of FIFA.
“And I am sure that at the beginning when UEFA said they don’t want me, they didn’t know that finally it came out with such a political importance.
“The FIFA World Cup or the FIFA president is a ball in the big political power game.”
Blatter also hit out at his suspension by the Ethics Committee and blames the media for exacerbating the scale of the scandal.
He added: “It’s total nonsense. This is not justice. I put these people into the office, where they are now in the Ethics Committee and they don’t even have the courage to listen to the secretary general, Platini or me.
“They wanted to say: ‘We, Ethics Committee, we are not at the service of the president, we are totally independent’. This is wrong. They can be independent but they don’t need to be against me.
“I think it was the pressure of the media [that made the Ethics Committee behave that way]. It was the pressure to get rid of the FIFA president.
“I was [also] bitterly affected by how I was abandoned by my own country.
“The Swiss media got very aggressive against me because I am from a very small canton, Valais, in the mountains and some of the people here think those coming from the mountains eat with their fingers. Primitive.”