(WFI) Disgraced FIFA president Sepp Blatter says he regrets but is not ashamed of the illegal payment to Michel Platini that led to his downfall.
“I’m not ashamed. I regret but I’m not ashamed,” Blatter, unshaven and wearing the look of a defeated man, told reporters at a press conference at the old FIFA headquarters.
His comments came one hour after FIFA’s ethics committee had delivered its verdict on Blatter and UEFA president Michel Platini. The pair were banned for each breaching four FIFA ethics code rules following an investigation into a “disloyal” $2 million payment made by FIFA to Platini in 2011 for his advisory work for Blatter completed nine years earlier. Swiss authorities are still investigating the payment.
“I will fight for me and I will fight for FIFA,” an angry and defiant Blatter said at the news conference, dismissing the verdict in what became a diatribe against the two-chamber FIFA ethics committee he helped spawn under the botched FIFA reforms process passed at the 2011 congress.
He plans to lodge an appeal at FIFA before taking his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Blatter said he felt “betrayed” by the ethics committee, whose investigatory arm had called for a lifetime ban, and the adjudicatory chamber led by German judge Hams-Joachim Eckert which dished out the ban on Monday.
The 79-year-old, who is battling to be allowed to preside over the FIFA Congress on Feb. 26 before his successor is announced, said the ethics committee had denied his evidence about the circumstances of the payment and tried “to build up something which is not true”. Blatter suggested people were accusing him of buying votes via Platini, who received the $2 million payment just months before the 2011 presidential election.
“What astonished me was the adjudicatory chamber deny the existence of such an agreement. And this agreement was indirectly or directly confirmed by two meetings of UEFA executive committee, one in Sweden and other one in Zurich in 98,” he said of the $2 million transaction.
The scandal-scarred FIFA president claimed FIFA’s ethics committee had not listened to his or Platini’s accounts of the payment. “This means we are liars. He is a liar and I am a liar. That is not correct,” he said.
His remarks contradicted the statement from FIFA’s ethics committee earlier Monday. It said Blatter had authorised the payment to Platini which had “no legal basis” in a written agreement signed between both officials on 25 August 1999, while “his assertion of an oral agreement was determined as not convincing and was rejected by the chamber” at the ethics hearing last Thursday.
“I’m really sorry. I’m sorry that I am still somewhere a punching ball as president of FIFA,” said Blatter in a lengthy rant.
Sounding off against the FIFA structures he created to clean up the scandal of the corruption-tarnished 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contest, he said “I am ashamed that the committee exists and doesn’t go through the evidence presented.
“This committee has no right to go against the president of FIFA.”
Underlining how delusional he has become, Blatter said “I am still the president… I can only be relieved of the presidency by congress”. “They have cut me off,” he said, “I need my rights to be restored by the end of February.”
Blatter closed the news conference with “I’ll be back”.
UEFA reacted to the news of Platini’s ban, which has all but blown his FIFA presidential hopes, by backing him to clear his name in the appeals process. “Naturally, UEFA is extremely disappointed with this decision which nevertheless is subject to appeal,” European football’s governing body said in a statement.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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