After promising to step down as the acting head of FIFA, Sepp Blatter now insists he will not. Why you ask? Well, according to Blatter, he’s done nothing wrong and even though he promised to step down at the beginning of summer, he feels confident that he doesn’t actually have to do that anymore.
On Monday, Sept. 28, The Guardian reported that Sepp Blatter has insisted that he will not step down from his position as acting head of the governing body of world football even as Swiss authorities opened criminal proceedings against him on Friday. In early June, Blatter announced that, in light of international investigations into alleged corruption by several top tier FIFA officials, he would be stepping down from his position.
During that June resignation, Blatter told members of the media: “FIFA needs a profound restructuring. I appreciate and love FIFA more than anything else and I only want to do the best for FIFA.”
But today, Blatter and his legal representation are singing a different tune. “President Blatter spoke to FIFA staff today and informed the staff that he was cooperating with the authorities, reiterated that he had done nothing illegal or improper and stated that he would remain as president of FIFA,” said Lorenz Erni, Blatter’s legal counsel, in a prepared statement.
Blatter is being investigated for a 1.35 million British pound payment to UEFA chief Michel Platini in 2011 for work done nearly a decade prior. Just weeks after the payment, Platini dropped his bid to succeed Blatter as FIFA president. Platini was Blatter’s nearest rival in that election and with his resignation from the contest, Blatter was reinstated as acting head. The circumstances of the payment are being investigated by both Swiss authorities and FIFA’s ethics committee, the Telegraph reported.
Now, Platini is ready to bid for Blatter’s position in 2016. But his bid has been called into question after news broke of the investigation into the 1.35 million pounds sterling payment made to Platini. New FIFA Now founder Damian Collins told The Guardian, “If Michel Platini is not able to clarify matters relating to his contract with FIFA and why he received such a large payment in 2011 for work he had supposedly completed nine years before, he should withdraw from the forthcoming FIFA presidential election.” That seems like a reasonable request, especially considering FIFA’s storied history of corruption.
Update (Sept. 29): BBC reported today that former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner has been banned from football for life. The decision was made by FIFA’s ethics committee following an internal investigation on allegations of corruption and bribery. The world football governing body released a statement regarding Warner’s lifetime ban: “In his positions as a football official, he was a key player in schemes involving the offer, acceptance, and receipt of undisclosed and illegal payments, as well as other money-making schemes.” Warner is currently fighting extradition to the United States on criminal bribery and corruption charges.