Sepp Blatter has vowed to continue as FIFA president until February’s election and has denied any wrongdoing after a criminal investigation was opened last week.
A probe into allegations of criminal mismanagement was launched by the Swiss attorney general against Blatter last week, while it was confirmed they would look into the circumstances surrounding a payment made to UEFA president Michel Platini.
Blatter, however, has released a statement after returning to FIFA headquarters in Zurich on Monday and has stated he will not step aside as the investigation continues.
A communication from Blatter’s legal team read: “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 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 advisor 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.”
Swiss prosecutors confirmed last week that Blatter was suspected of signing a contract with former Caribbean football chief Jack Warner in 2005 which was “unfavourable to FIFA”, in relation to a TV rights agreement that would allegedly prove beneficial to Warner’s own company.
The alleged payment made to Platini, believed to total £1.3 million, was claimed to be “at the expense of FIFA, which was allegedly made for work performed between January 1999 and June 2002”, though Platini himself moved to clarify the issue.
“Regarding the payment that was made to me, I wish to state that this amount relates to work which I carried out under a contract with FIFA and I was pleased to have been able to clarify all matters relating to this with the authorities,” the UEFA chief said.
Richard Cullen, another of Blatter’s legal team, stated last week that he was confident the allegations would be dropped.
“When the Swiss authorities have a chance to review the documents and the evidence, they will see that the contract was properly prepared and negotiated by the appropriate staff members of FIFA who were routinely responsible for such contracts, and certainly no mismanagement occurred,” he said.
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