Blatter to stay on as FIFA president: “I’ve done nothing illegal”

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FIFA president Sepp Blatter has vowed to stay on despite a criminal investigations being launched against the 79-year-old by the Swiss authorities.

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Speaking in an internal FIFA staff meeting in Zurich on Monday, the 17-year leader of world soccer’s governing body claimed he had “done nothing illegal or improper” over suspicions of mismanagement regarding a TV deal with former FIFA president Jack Warner, plus a payment of $1.9 million to current UEFA president Michel Platini who is in the running to replace Blatter as FIFA’s president when he steps down on Feb. 26, 2016.

This latest show of defiance from Blatter comes after Swiss and U.S. authorities continue their probe into long-term corruption at the organization he had been at the head of for nearly two decades, while he has been involved in FIFA for almost 40 years in various roles.

Following sensational dawn raids in Zurich prior to the most recent FIFA presidential election — which Blatter won to secure a fifth-straight four-year term in charge — in May, Blatter announced that he was to resign his position.

His resignation will still take place as planned but despite allegations of criminal mismanagement hanging over his head, the head of FIFA will continue his role until the bitter end.

Did anybody expect anything else? Various reports suggest that both Blatter and Platini could be suspended by FIFA as the investigations by the Swiss authorities play out (that would mean the latter would be out of the next presidential election) but as of yet, no word has come from FIFA on how they plan to act regarding the matter.

Courtesy of Rob Harris from the Associated Press, here is a statement from Blatter’s lawyer.

“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 (UEFA President Michel) 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 adviser 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.”