Sepp Blatter

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - JULY 20: Comedian Simon Brodkin (not pictured) throws cash at FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter during a press conference at the Extraordinary FIFA Executive Committee Meeting at the FIFA headquarters on July 20, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images)
Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images

Surprise! Sepp Blatter might have illegally taken money from FIFA

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Perhaps Probably Look, I know the above headline definitely didn’t take you by surprise — at all.

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It’s a pretty widely belief — since, roughly, about the middle of the aughts — that Sepp Blatter, among others, partook in some pretty shady dealings over nearly two full decades as the head of world football’s governing body.

The important thing, now, is that FIFA — or, the new folks in charge of FIFA — also believe this to be true — or, at the very minimum, appear interested in taking a crack at proving it to be true in order to take the spotlight off themselves. The new FIFA! Same as the old FIFA…

Blatter’s day in (an American federal) court is presumably still coming — we’re counting on you, Loretta Lynch — so this’ll have to do, for now.

Blatter says he will accept verdict as CAS appeal begins

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JULY 25:  FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter speaks during the Preliminary Draw of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia at The Konstantin Palace on July 25, 2015 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.  (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)
Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter arrived for his appeal hearing against a six-year ban from football on Thursday, pledging to accept the verdict of the Court of Arbitration for Sport

“I do hope it will be positive for me,” Blatter, sporting a light gray beard, told reporters at around 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) ahead of a hearing expected to last several hours.

The court’s verdict is expected within several weeks, and could be challenged in a further appeal to Switzerland’s supreme court.

The 80-year-old Blatter denies wrongdoing in authorizing a $2 million payment to former FIFA vice president Michel Platini in 2011. They claimed it was for backdated and uncontracted salary for work Platini did in advising Blatter from 1999 to 2002.

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The so-called “disloyal payment” led Blatter to be put under investigation for criminal mismanagement by Swiss federal prosecutors last September. That investigation is ongoing.

FIFA’s ethics committee judged the $2 million deal was a conflict of interest and initially banned Blatter and Platini for eight years last December. FIFA’s appeal committee cut both bans to six years.

Platini’s appeal to CAS was already judged in May, when Blatter appeared in person as a witness. Platini promised a further appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal after his ban was only cut from six to four years.

Platini arrived at the hearing around midday local time to be a witness. Both men have denied any wrongdoing.

Blatter’s comments Thursday suggest he would not pursue a federal case. Federal judges can intervene only if legal process is abused.

“We are football players, we learned to win but also we learned to lose and it will not be the end of the world,” Blatter said outside CAS.

The three-member panel for Blatter’s case is expected to respect the verdict of a separate panel which judged Platini.

A failure to overturn the ban for Blatter would likely end his hope to one day be named FIFA honorary president by its 211 member federations.

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The case already ended Platini’s chance to replace Blatter as FIFA president, and also forced him out of European governing body UEFA.

On Sept. 14, UEFA members will elect a successor to replace Platini who had a mandate through March 2019. By imposing a four-year ban, the CAS panel ensured UEFA had to replace Platini, rather than wait for him to return.

The “disloyal payment” emerged last year when Platini was strongly favored to win the election to replace Blatter, who had announced his departure plans after 17 years as president amid pressure from American and Swiss federal investigations of corruption implicating senior FIFA officials.

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Both men were questioned at FIFA headquarters last September by Swiss investigators who were waiting for them outside an executive committee meeting.

During the turmoil in world football, Platini’s right-hand man at UEFA, Gianni Infantino, submitted an election candidacy on the entry deadline day and won the vote in February.

Arriving at the hearing with his Zurich-based lawyer Lorenz Erni, Blatter said he hoped the CAS panel “will understand that the payment made to Platini was really a debt that we had against him.”

“This is a principle, if you have debts you pay them,” Blatter said.

Former FIFA head Blatter has surgery for skin cancer

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - DECEMBER 21: FIFA president Joseph S. Blatter attends a press conference as reaction to his banishment for eight years by the FIFA ethics committee at FIFA's former headquarters at Sonnenberg on December 21, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images)
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ZURICH (AP) — Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter has undergone minor surgery to treat skin cancer.

Blatter’s spokesman, Thomas Renggli, tells The Associated Press that he is at “home and fine” after a surgical procedure on his left ear.

The 80-year-old Blatter spent one night at a clinic before being discharged on Thursday, Renggli says.

Blatter spent several days in a hospital in Zurich last November after a stress-related collapse while he was suspended from duty by the FIFA ethics committee and subjected to criminal proceedings by federal prosecutors in Switzerland.

Now barred for six years for conflict of interest, Blatter has an appeal hearing on Aug. 25 at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Blatter’s 18-year stint as FIFA president ended in February when former UEFA official Gianni Infantino was elected.

FIFA headquarters raided in reference to Blatter, Valcke investigations

PRATO, ITALY - APRIL 13: General view during the FIFA Futsal playoff match between Italy and Hungary on April 13, 2016 in Prato, Italy.  (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)
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If anyone thought the FIFA corruption and bribery investigations were nearing an end, think again.

According to the Associated Press, Swiss authorities have re-entered FIFA headquarters in Zurich in search of evidence involving ongoing cases for former president Sepp Blatter and Jerome Valcke.

Led by Swiss attorney general Michael Lauber, Blatter, Valcke and former FIFA financial officer Markus Kattner are being heavily pursued for reportedly awarding themselves in excess of $80 million in bonuses over a five-year period.

“Documents and electronic data were seized and will now be examined to determine their relevance to the ongoing proceedings,” the federal prosecution office said Friday, one day after the latest search at FIFA headquarters in Zurich.

Both Blatter and Valcke have been under investigation for months, while Blatter has been banned from all FIFA activities for six years and Valcke for 12 years.

Kattner was fired last week by FIFA after irregular payments were discovered amounting to millions of dollars.

The news comes just weeks after new president Gianni Infantino declared that “the crisis is over” in regards to the entire FIFA corruption scandal.

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Qatar World Cup head: Blatter US support should be looked at

Sepp Blatter, FIFA president
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LONDON (AP) The head of the Qatar World Cup says Sepp Blatter’s support for the rival United States bid for the 2022 tournament should face more scrutiny.

Qatar’s FIFA backers have been criticized for seemingly ignoring the inspection report before voting for the Gulf nation in 2010.

But Hassan Al-Thawadi, secretary general of the Qatar organizing committee, says then-FIFA President Blatter “wanted the U.S. to win regardless of the merits of the bid, regardless of anything else … that needs to be looked at.”

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Addressing a London audience, Al-Thawadi added that “it’s just fascinating that nobody is raising any concerns about that (Blatter) and looking into that … but fair enough. I guess we will take the flak again.”

The U.S. bid has not been accused of impropriety. Qatar has also denied any wrongdoing.