Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) President Sepp Blatter has said that he will not resign immediately despite criminal proceedings being launched against him.
The 79-year-old is due to step down from the top job at football’s governing body in February, but there were calls for him to depart the scandal-hit organisation straight away after Switzerland’s Attorney General announced he was under investigation on “suspicion of criminal mismanagement as well as – alternatively – on suspicion of misappropriation”.
He is suspected of making a “disloyal payment” of CHF 2 million (£1.3 million/$2.1 million/€1.8 million) in February 2011 to Union of European Football Association’s
(UEFA) President Michel Platini, who is one of the men who is seeking to replace Blatter and has today broken his own silence on the allegations.
Both men face possible suspension by FIFA’s own ethics committee, which is also investigating, with Blatter further accused by the Attorney General of signing an “unfavourable” contract with the Caribbean Football Union in 2005 – which was headed at the time by another accused official in Jack Warner.
Blatter and Platini both deny any wrongdoing with the former releasing a statement through his lawyer Lorenz Erni.
The payment to Platini was allegedly “at the expense” of FIFA, and was supposedly made for work the Frenchman performed between 1998 and 2002.
However, the nine-year gap between the end of his work and the 2011 payment is yet to be explained.
“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,” said Erni.
“On the 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.”
Platini spoke for the first time on the matter in a letter to all member federations of UEFA, European football’s governing body.
“For reasons of transparency I would like to inform you of the following important aspects,” he said.
“I wish to clarify that for the period 1998 to 2002, I was employed by FIFA to work on a wide range of matters relating to football.
“It was a full-time job and my functions were known by all.
“The remuneration was agreed at the time and after initial payments were made, the final outstanding amount of two million Swiss Francs was paid in February of 2011.
“This income has been fully declared by me to the authorities, in accordance with Swiss law.
“I was interviewed by the Swiss authorities about this matter last Friday, not as a person accused of any wrongdoing, but simply in my capacity as a person providing information.
“Furthermore, I have, today, written to the Ethics Committee of FIFA to request that I may come forward to provide whatever additional information may be needed in order to clear this matter up.
“I am aware that these events may harm my image and my reputation and by consequence, the image of UEFA, the organisation of which I am proud to be President.
“For these reasons, I wish to use all my energies to ensure that any issues or misunderstandings can be resolved as soon as possible.”