ZURICH (Reuters) - Banned FIFA president Sepp Blatter feels “abandoned” by the global soccer body and will now focus on clearing his name, the 79-year-old Swiss told German magazine Bunte.
FIFA’s watchdog last week banned Blatter and UEFA boss Michel Platini for eight years for ethics violations. Both men immediately denied any wrongdoing and said they would appeal to the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“I now no longer fight for FIFA,” Blatter, who led soccer’s governing body for 17 years, said according to a preview of an interview with Bunte. “They abandoned me. I am now only fighting for myself and my honor.”
Blatter had come out swinging against the ban, holding a news conference to tell reporters that he was sorry only that the president of FIFA was being treated as a “punching ball”, adding: “I will fight for me and I will fight for FIFA.”
He told Bunte that he was re-energized by the “false claims” against him. “After Christmas I will start to fight back,” Blatter said.
The inquiry by FIFA’s ethics committee began after the Swiss attorney general’s office opened criminal proceedings against Blatter over a 2 million Swiss franc ($2.03 million) payment to Platini in 2011.
Switzerland’s prosecutor is also investigating FIFA’s award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals to Russia and to Qatar, a small, wealthy desert country with no real soccer tradition.
The ethics committee said it had not found evidence that the payment, made at a time when Blatter was seeking re-election, constituted a bribe, which meant the men were spared potential lifetime bans.
In the United States, prosecutors have indicted 27 current or former soccer officials over allegations that they ran bribery schemes connected to the sale of television rights for soccer competitions.. These include eight former FIFA Executive Committee members and the current heads of both the North and South American federations.
Platter’s full interview with Bunte will be published on Wednesday.
Editing by Nick Macfie