Embattled former FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, has said his work in football is officially “finished,” while adding that the sport’s high-profile sponsors in the United States won’t walk away from the game.
Blatter and suspended UEFA president, Michel Platini, on Monday were both banned from any football-related activities for the next eight years for conflict of interest in a two million Swiss franc (£1.35 million) payment deal that is also the subject of a criminal investigation in Switzerland.
The bans were effective immediately and effectively end any chance of Blatter continuing his involvement with the sport’s governing body, while also casting major doubt on Platini’s hopes of running for the FIFA presidency in 2016.
Platini did not attend the hearing where his ban was announced and will appeal the decision with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and the Frenchman’s lawyer said his client still hopes to run for the FIFA presidency.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Wall Street Journal, Blatter remained his defiant self at times, while also sounding somewhat resigned to the fact that his work with the game was done.
“I’ve finished my work in football. I lost faith in our organisation on May 27 with this intervention by American law enforcement,” Blatter said, referring to the pre-dawn raid of a Zurich hotel in May that led to the arrest of seven FIFA officials. “And the same day it presented FIFA as a mafia-type organisation.”
In addition to their eight-year bans, Blatter and Platini were fined 50,000 and 80,000 Swiss francs, respectively.
“He’s a little more expensive than I am,” Blatter said referring to the differing amounts of their fines. “But this is nonsense. According to Swiss law, to suspend someone for eight years, you must have committed a murder or a bank robbery.”
Regarding the warnings from high-profile sponsors of the World Cup like Adidas, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Visa and Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch that FIFA must clean up its act, Blatter seemed dubious that those companies would walk away from their association with the beautiful game.
“Companies, commercial partners are queuing up to get in,” Blatter said. “If the Americans want to leave, others will come. But they don’t want to get out. They won’t leave.”
Blatter also addressed the suspension of his then right-hand man Jerome Valcke for allegedly selling World Cup tickets for well beyond face value. The 79-year-old said the suspension wasn’t entirely about the ticket sales.
“For me, the tickets had nothing to do with it. It was his personal attitude.” Blatter said that Valcke wanted to become FIFA president one day and that affected the secretary’s approach to nearly everything he did.
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