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FIFA Sepp Blatter defends actions to staff

On Friday Swiss authorities interrogated FIFA president Sepp Blatter in his office 

(Keystone)

FIFA president Sepp Blatter told staff at the football organisation’s headquarters Monday that he had done nothing illegal or improper, according to a statement issued by his lawyers.

Three days after Swiss authorities announced that it was investigating the 79-year old, the five-term head of the world football body also defended, through his attorneys that payments made to Michel Platini, were “valid compensation and nothing more”.

In spite of growing media pressure to quit, the statement said Blatter will not step down, and remain in his job until February.

On Friday, Swiss officials interrogated Blatter at FIFA headquarters and searched his offices. A statement from the federal prosecutor’s office said that the investigation focused on “suspicion of criminal mismanagement and suspicion of misappropriation” of funds.

A separate investigation of FIFA is being carried out by the US justice department.

The Swiss investigation announced Friday focuses on a contract that FIFA’s president is said to have signed assigning World Cup television rights to an indicted former FIFA official, Jack Warner, much below their market value.

The enquiry is also looking at a payment of CHF2 million made to Michel Platini, current head of UEFA, European football’s governing body, and a candidate in FIFA’s presidential election in February, for work performed between January 1999 and June 2002, but not made until 2011. Blatter had been re-elected in late 2010.

Meanwhile, Platini, who this weekend defended the payment, announced late Monday that would like to be heard by FIFA’s ethics commission, and offer any additional information needed. He said the payment was in compensation for a “full time job” at FIFA.

On June 2, a few days after being re-elected as president at FIFA's congress, Sepp Blatter announced his resignation amidst Swiss and US investigations into the corruption at the sports organisation. However in July, FIFA said new elections will only take place on February 26, giving Blatter seven more months in office.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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