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FIFA president hits back at critics

Blatter (left) with his rival Zen-Ruffinen during the draw for the 2002 World Cup

(Keystone Archive)

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has responded to allegations of corruption and financial mismanagement made by committee members.

"The extent and unsubstantiated content of these allegations must be set right," Sepp Blatter said in a 30-page report released on Saturday.

"They will come back to haunt my accusers, above all the general secretary, [Michel Zen-Ruffinen]."

Blatter said he was responding to an explosive report released on May 3 by Zen-Ruffinen.

The FIFA president claimed the hard-hitting document, presented to the body's ruling executive committee, was aimed at preventing him from serving a second four-year term.

Issa Hayatou, Blatter's opponent in the May 29 vote in Seoul, was one of eleven executive committee members to launch legal proceedings against Blatter on May 10.

Blatter said that move was "the most saddening twist so far."

Leaked documents

A further twist in the stand-off between Blatter and his general secretary came on Sunday, when the Swiss newspaper, "dimanche.ch", published documents it claimed proved that the FIFA president was behind a call for Zen-Ruffinen's suspension.

The paper claims to have seen copies of emails which it says prove that Blatter was behind a letter - signed by the president of the Argentine football federation, Julio Grondona - calling for the suspension of the general secretary.

The letter was "officially filed by Grondona," the paper reports, "but in truth it came from the Blatter camp."

"Blatter's situation...could easily become hopeless in the hours that follow," concludes "dimanche.ch".

Accusations of mismanagement

Zen-Ruffinen accuses his boss of making several unauthorised payments, including writing a cheque for $25,000 to a Nigerian referee to dig up dirt on one of Blatter's critics.

He also charges that Blatter's mismanagement and the bankruptcy of FIFA's marketing partner, ISL/ISMM, had cost the organisation up to SFr800 million ($500 million).

Blatter responded that Zen-Ruffinen's report was made up of statements that were inaccurate and demonstrated a "lack of knowledge and ability."

Zen-Ruffinen "gave his unconditional signature for the annual accounts, confirming them to be complete and correct," Blatter said.

swissinfo with agencies


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