Thursday 27 October 2016

Blatter protests innocence to members

Sepp Blatter
Sepp Blatter

Sepp Blatter has written to FIFA's 209 member associations protesting his innocence and criticising FIFA's ethics committee ahead of disciplinary hearings later this week.

The 79-year-old outgoing FIFA president claims the proceedings against him have been "like an inquisition".

Blatter and UEFA president Michel Platini will have hearings before FIFA ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert tomorrow and Friday in Zurich over a £1.3million payment made to Platini by FIFA in 2011.

Blatter's personal advisor Klaus Stoehlker said that Blatter had written to all 209 FIFA associations.

Stoehlker said Blatter had been working on the letter on Monday and had sent it to the 209 associations because he wanted to tell them in person of his feelings about the charges.

"He has worked very hard on this letter, he is looking at this week feeling very strong in spirit," he said. Blatter and Platini are likely to escape lifetime bans for corruption but investigators expect the pair to receive lengthy suspensions of at least seven years.

They face charges including corruption, conflict of interest and non-cooperation. Sources with knowledge of the case say that it will be difficult to prove corruption, which carries a lifetime ban, but believe there is clear evidence of a conflict of interest in the payment being made.

Blatter's case will be heard tomorrow with Platini's following on Friday, with a decision expected on Monday next week.

The 2million Swiss franc payment was made to Platini in February 2011. The Frenchman and Blatter say the payment was honouring an agreement made in 1998 for work carried out between 1998 and 2002, when Platini worked as a technical advisor for the FIFA president.

However the payment was not part of Platini's written contract - they have insisted that it was an oral agreement which is legal under Swiss law.

The timing of the payment has raised eyebrows however - it took place nine years after Platini had stopped working for FIFA, and was made while Blatter was seeking support for a fourth term as president.

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