Sepp Blatter

Sepp Blatter, FIFA president
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Qatar World Cup head: Blatter US support should be looked at

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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.

Sepp Blatter says he hasn’t been contacted by FBI

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - MAY 30:  FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter talks to the press during the FIFA Post Congress Week Press Conference at the Home of FIFA on May 30, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland.  (Photo by Alessandro Della Bella/Getty Images)
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Sepp Blatter has revealed that he has heard nothing from the U.S. Department of Justice over its ongoing investigation into corruption at FIFA.

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World soccer’s governing body was rocked to its core last May when U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the Swiss authorities indicted 16 FIFA officials and many more businessmen involved in deals regarding broadcast and sponsorship of FIFA events.

Blatter, 80, has retired as FIFA’s president and a new man, Gianni Infantino, is in charge.

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However, the man who led FIFA for over 17 years is never far from the limelight and spoke to Sky Sports in the UK on Thursday as he launched his new book in Zurich.

Asked if he’d had any contact with U.S. officials regarding corruption at FIFA, Blatter said he’s heard nothing.

“Direct contact? No,” Blatter said. “They have asked the Swiss authorities to make some questions but I haven’t been questioned by neither one or the other organization so far.”

The Swiss official also denied any wrongdoing in a payment with former UEFA President Michel Platini — FIFA’s ethics committee has already banned Platini and Blatter for eight years each but they have gone to the the Court of Arbitration for Sports to appeal the ban — and being part of Jack Warner’s broadcast deals as the former FIFA vice-president is currently under arrest after being charged by U.S. authorities.

Blatter didn’t seem too willing to head to the U.S. anytime soon to answer any questions Lynch and the FBI may have.

“I am willing to cooperate with all the investigators, be it in the United States or here,” Blatter said. “But they cannot make an investigation here. I don’t need to go there but I am available.”

Speaking about his retirement from FIFA, Blatter said he feels relief but will continue to help the organization in legal battles wherever he can.

“For me the word retirement is not the right identification. I am no longer the President of FIFA. It was like a liberation for me and the stone had fallen down. There was no longer the president but I am still alive, I am still in a good mood. I am fighting for me and for my personal reputation. I am also fighting and defending FIFA in these different cases in different courts because they have asked me in some cases for testimony and in other cases for information. I do it because they think I can explain a little bit about what has happened in FIFA.”

Blatter angered by claim he was silent about FIFA corruption

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - DECEMBER 21: FIFA president Joseph S. Blatter and his daughter Corinne Blatter attend 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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BASEL, Switzerland (AP) — Sepp Blatter says it was “not acceptable” to be accused at a public event Friday that he stayed silent while likely knowing that senior FIFA officials were corrupt.

“I am not guilty,” the visibly angry former FIFA president later told reporters at the University of Basel in his native Switzerland.

Blatter had been the key speaker in a two-hour debate with a mostly student audience on problems facing world soccer’s scandal-hit governing body.

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After Blatter again blamed officials in the North and South American soccer bodies for corruption, the session closed with the claim made by former International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo.

Ocampo suggested Blatter had known about bribery which U.S. federal prosecutors revealed last May in a sprawling indictment that rocked FIFA in its presidential election week.

“The real problem with Mr. Blatter is that he had nothing to do with CONCACAF and CONMEBOL, but he knew,” said Ocampo, once a candidate to be FIFA’s lead ethics investigator.

“Even (if) he was not involved, why was he silent?” the Argentine lawyer told the audience of about 400 people, claiming that “probably (Blatter) knew and he decided to stay in silence.”

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Ocampo also said Blatter likely knew – and said nothing – about misconduct implicating long-time FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, who has denied any wrongdoing.

Blatter’s right-hand man since 2007 was fired by FIFA in January, banned for 12 years by the ethics committee and is the subject of criminal proceedings opened last month by Switzerland’s attorney general.

Blatter said he was “very unhappy” with the accusation by Ocampo, who is a visiting lecturer at Harvard University.

“It is not acceptable. It is not acceptable,” Blatter told reporters. “I was very surprised at Mr. Ocampo invited here for this seminar and then to make such an accusation. Perhaps he is a little bit disappointed because he was the first candidate to be the chair of the ethics committee.”

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In 2012, Ocampo was proposed to be FIFA’s first ethics prosecutor by a FIFA advisory group led by Swiss law professor Mark Pieth, who organized Friday’s event.

Ocampo’s appointment was blocked, reportedly due to the influence of then-FIFA senior vice president Julio Grondona of Argentina, who died in 2014 and has since been linked to the bribery conspiracy. Instead, FIFA picked Michael Garcia, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Blatter was forced out after more than 17 years as FIFA president by the scandal. He announced his resignation plans last June, days after the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed an indictment alleging a sprawling bribery and money laundering conspiracy implicating international soccer leaders.

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In a widening investigation by American and Swiss federal prosecutors, Blatter was suspended from duty and then banned by the ethics committee after Swiss prosecutors opened criminal proceedings against him for suspected criminal mismanagement.

Blatter is currently awaiting a hearing date at the Court of Arbitration for Sport to appeal against a six-year ban by FIFA.

“I think it will be the beginning of May but I don’t know,” the 80-year-old Blatter said Friday.

FIFA inks WCup deal with Chinese sponsor linked to Blatter

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - JUNE 03: A FIFA logo sits next to the entrance at the FIFA headquarters on June 3, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland. Joseph S. Blatter resigned as president of FIFA. The 79-year-old Swiss official, FIFA president for 17 years said a special congress would be called to elect a successor. (Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images)
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ZURICH (AP) — FIFA signed its first World Cup sponsor since 2013 on Friday, agreeing to a four-tournament deal with a Chinese conglomerate that has links to Sepp Blatter.

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FIFA said the deal with property and cinema giant Dalian Wanda Group runs through the 2030 World Cup. The value of the top-tier partnership was not disclosed but is likely to top hundreds of millions of dollars.

The firm’s Wanda Sports Holding subsidiary is led by Blatter’s nephew, Philippe Blatter. Sepp Blatter was forced out as FIFA president by a corruption crisis.

Wanda Group chairman Wang Jianlin and Philippe Blatter were at FIFA headquarters on Friday to complete the deal.

FIFA last signed a sponsor 2 1/2 years ago when Russian energy giant Gazprom agreed to a deal.

FIFA officials have often acknowledged that potential commercial partners were put off by the corruption scandals, and would wait until after the presidential election to replace Blatter before signing.

The Wanda money will help fund the spending promises that FIFA President Gianni Infantino made before his election last month.

On Thursday, FIFA committed to pay $517 million more to national, regional and continental soccer bodies through 2018.

FIFA also upgraded its revenue forecast by $1.2 billion to $5.66 billion for a four-year commercial cycle tied to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Wanda Group is not the first World Cup sponsor from China. Energy company Yingli Solar was a second-tier sponsor for the 2014 tournament in Brazil.

On Thursday, FIFA said it banked only $224 million last year from seven World Cup sponsors. That left 27 of the available slots to be filled for two-tournament deals covering 2018 in Russia and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Wanda Group was the first of those 27, with others expected to follow in the next weeks.

FIFA reveal big losses; Blatter’s staggering salary for 2015

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FIFA released their accounts for last year and for the first time we have found out how much Sepp Blatter was paid in 2015.

The former FIFA president, who has lodged an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) to try and overturn his six-year ban from soccer activity, earned $3.76 million in 2015.

[ MORE: FIFA admits to World Cup bribes

It is believed he would have earned much more than that in any World Cup year due to the vast number of sponsorship, broadcasting and commercial deals put in place.

Still, not a bad haul…

Blatter, 80, had been in charge of FIFA from 1998 until technically last month when Gianni Infantino was elected as the new president of world soccer’s governing body.

The Swiss official announced in May 2015 — shortly after he was elected in as president for his fifth-straight four-year term — that he would be resigning as president amid growing pressure as Swiss and U.S. investigations have unearthed widespread corruption throughout the organization. 

FIFA stated that Blatter was paid a salary of almost $2.9 million in 2015, the same year FIFA was almost destroyed, and bonuses plus other pension contributions bumped his total up to $3.76 million.

Other notable numbers from the 133-page document revealing FIFA’s accounts include the revelation that Blatter’s long-time general secretary, Jerome Valcke, was paid $2.11 million in 2015. Valcke is currently serving a 12-year ban from all soccer activity.

In the accounts FIFA state that “it has been a very difficult year” and after making a profit of $140.4 million in 2014, they lost $121.6 million in 2015 as a year of turmoil threatened to mark the end of the organization.

Overall, though, FIFA is still extremely wealthy despite all of its struggles.

The current cash reserve is at $1.33 billion, but that is down from $1.44 billion.