(WFI) Sepp Blatter has protested his innocence against corruption charges in a letter to FIFA’s 209 member federations ahead of his ethics hearing on Thursday.
In the letter circulated Tuesday, he hit out at FIFA investigators’ handling of his case saying “This trial reminds me of the Inquisition”.
“I am bewildered by the insinuations and allegations brought against me by the investigatory chamber of the ethics committee,” Blatter wrote.
“However the way in which the investigatory chamber of the ethics committee has communicated on the current proceedings, demanded the maximum penalty and reinforced public prejudgement has reached a tendentious and dangerous dimension.
“I will continue to fight for my rights and at the end of this week I will present my case before the adjudicatory chamber with great conviction and a strong belief in justice. Although, I have been suspended I am not isolated and will certainly not be silenced.”
Blatter and his legal team will on Thursday provide testimony to a FIFA panel of four judges led by Hans Joachim Eckert.
INSIDER is told that the hearing starts 9am CET at FIFA headquarters in Zurich.
The suspended FIFA president faces allegations of signing off an illegal $2 million payment to UEFA president Michel Platini in 2011 just months before he stood in the presidential election and the Frenchman decided not to run against him. Both men insist the payment was a gentleman’s agreement for advisory work Platini did for Blatter more than nine years earlier.
Platini will face FIFA’s ethics judges on Friday over the payment. His lawyer said earlier this month that the UEFA president faced a lifetime ban from football, a sanction also possible for Blatter. But it is understood this may be considered too harsh a punishment. The pair both face bans of six years or more if the judges find them guilty of code of ethics violations.
FIFA’s Eckert is set to announce verdicts on both men next Monday or Tuesday.
Blatter and Platini were provisionally banned for 90 days in October pending a full investigation into the allegations of financial misconduct. They are also the subject of a criminal investigation by Swiss authorities probing the “disloyal payment”. They deny wrongdoing.
The hearings come at the end of what Blatter called a “turbulent year”. The U.S. Department of Justice has so far indicted 41 FIFA officials and entities in its ongoing investigation into a bribery and corruption scandal that has left world football’s governing body in tatters.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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