Disgraced former FIFA president Joseph “Sepp” Blatter has threatened legal action against his former employer for spreading “false” rumours about alleged corruption and for failing to return his collection of valuable Swiss watches.
Blatter was deposed as FIFA president in 2015 and later banned from football-related activities for six years. The Swiss Attorney General is also investigating the 83-year-old Swiss national for allegedly enriching himself illegally during his time as the head of football’s world governing body.
But Blatter continues to fight his corner, telling both the Swiss Weltwoche newspaper and the New York Times (NYT) this week that he has been wronged. He claims that FIFA has spread false information about him taking millions in rigged bonuses. More bizarrely, he says that FIFA has failed to return his collection of around 120 collectible watches, conservatively valued at $400,000 (CHF408,000).
“I’m going to take legal action against [current FIFA president] Gianni Infantino and FIFA,” he told Weltwocheexternal link on Thursday. “I’ve had enough. This is the limit.”
Blatter told the NYTexternal link that he will issue a lawsuit also claiming that FIFA has withheld pension payments to which he believes he is entitled. But he added that his chief goal will be to restore his tarnished reputation rather than financial motivation. “I’m not going to die about it, but I want to die in dignity, and I want them to say I was not a thief in FIFA,” he is quoted as saying.
Weltwoche has seen correspondence between Blatter and Infantino from January. Blatter accused FIFA of smearing his character by claiming in 2016 that he had awarded himself unjust bonus payments. “The information and the various communiqués put about by FIFA concerning my income are divorced from reality, and consequently, are defamatory,” he wrote.
FIFA told the NYT that Blatter’s watches had already been returned to him and insisted that the former president has received all the pension payments that he is entitled to. The spokesperson said FIFA would defend itself if Blatter files a lawsuit.