Dethroned FIFA president Sepp Blatter says the CHF2 million ($2.1 million) payment made to UEFA president Michel Platini in 2011 that led to them being suspended by world football’s governing body was based on a “gentleman’s agreement”.
Blatter was speaking for the first time about the nature of the transaction since being suspended last week for 90 days by FIFA’s ethics panel pending the outcome of a full investigation into the payment.
The Swiss authorities are investigating the matter. Both men have denied wrongdoing. Blatter has already said that he will appeal the suspension.
Blatter said in an interview with Swiss local broadcaster RROTV, released on Friday, that there was no written contract for the payment to Platini.
He said, “it was a contract I had with Platini, a gentleman’s agreement and that went through".
Platini has said the money was unpaid additional salary from his job as Blatter's adviser between 1998 and 2002 which FIFA could not afford to pay at the time.
FIFA under fire
The Swiss attorney general announced on September 25, after FIFA’s executive committee meeting in Zurich, that it was investigating Blatter personally on suspicion of “criminal mismanagement” and “misappropriation” of funds.
Swiss prosecutors are looking into a contract signed with a former head of the Caribbean Football Union Jack Warner for World Cup television rights, as well as the Platini payment.
FIFA has been in serious crisis for several months after 14 sports marketing executives and football officials, including several from Zurich-based FIFA, were indicted by the United States on bribery, money laundering and wire fraud charges.
More broadly, the Swiss authorities are investigating suspected FIFA irregularities over the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.
Germany and the 2006 World Cup
Meanwhile, the German newsweekly Der Spiegel alleged on Friday that Germany's winning bid for the 2006 World Cup was aided by bribes paid to FIFA executive committee members.
Der Spiegel said the German bidding committee set up a slush fund of CHF10.3 million that was contributed in a private capacity by former Adidas chief Robert Louis-Dreyfus.
Germany's Football Association (DFB) has rejected the allegations.
FIFA said it would investigate the claims. "These are very serious allegations," a FIFA official told Reuters. "They will be reviewed as part of the independent internal investigation currently being conducted by FIFA under the direction of its legal director with the assistance of outside counsel."
Earlier on Friday, the DFB said an internal probe found no indication of wrongdoing in the overall process that awarded the 2006 World Cup tournament to Germany, a tournament eventually won by Italy.
But it said it was looking into a €6.7 million ($7.6-million) payment made in 2005 from the country's 2006 World Cup organising committee to FIFA that may not have been used as intended.
Blatter soldiers on
Back in Switzerland, Blatter told RROTV that he aimed to return to office in time to hand over power to a successor to be elected at a special congress in February.
Blatter, 18 years in office, had previously announced he was standing down but had hoped to retain his post for the formal handover, asserting his innocence of any wrongdoing.
"If I run away now and let everything fall, then I denigrate myself," Blatter told the regional broadcaster based in the canton of Valais. "That's my goal, that I can lead the Congress.”
swissinfo.ch and agencies