Dis­graced Blat­ter re­gret at over­stay­ing FIFA ten­ure

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Dis­graced for­mer FIFA pres­i­dent Sepp Blat­ter, forced out as head of world foot­ball’s gov­ern­ing body amid a cor­rup­tion scan­dal in 2015, ad­mit­ted yesterday he re­gret­ted not step­ping down ear­lier.

The 81-year-old was banned over ethics breaches, bring­ing an end to his 17-year reign as FIFA chief, fol­low­ing a sus­pect two mil­lion Swiss franc ($2 mil­lion, 1.8 mil­lion euro) pay­ment to exUEFA pres­i­dent Michel Pla­tini.

“I should have stopped my­self ear­lier,” Blat­ter said in an in­ter­view pub­lished by Swiss news­pa­per Son­ntagsBlick, adding that his oust­ing as FIFA boss was “a re­lief”. Blat­ter, who was re-elected for a fifth term in May 2015 be­fore promptly an­nounc­ing his plans to re­sign, re­called the editor-in-chief of a Swiss mag­a­zine warn­ing him the role of FIFA pres­i­dent had an ex­pi­ra­tion date.

“‘At your place the date is 2014’, he told me, and I said to him that some­times it’s writ­ten that the prod­uct can be con­sumed be­yond this date if it’s stored in a cool place,” Blat­ter said.

Blat­ter was also asked about a re­port in Ger­man news­pa­per Der Spiegel that cur­rent FIFA chief Gianni In­fantino had feared be­ing dis­missed as the sub­ject of another ethics com­mit­tee in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

In­fantino was cleared last year by FIFA of ethics vi­o­la­tions af­ter in­ves­ti­gat­ing him over his use of pri­vate jets, per­sonal ex­penses, hir­ing meth­ods and a con­tract dis­pute. But FIFA as­sured last month “no in­ves­ti­ga­tion” had been opened into In­fantino af­ter sources said his role in the Con­fed­er­a­tion of African Foot­ball’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tions was be­ing looked into. “I don’t know about that, I only know that for­mer FIFA col­leagues ad­dressed them­selves be­cause of him to the ethics com­mit­tee and that three or four weeks later, they were thrown out of FIFA,” Blat­ter said.

Ethics chiefs Hans-Joachim Eck­ert and Cor­nel Bor­bely were re­placed in May at the an­nual FIFA Congress, with Bor­bely call­ing the de­ci­sion “a set­back in the fight against cor­rup­tion”.

Blat­ter also spoke out against the in­tro­duc­tion of the video as­sis­tant re­view (VAR) sys­tem, cur­rently be­ing tri­alled at the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup in Rus­sia. “The game loses at­trac­tive­ness... You have to leave ref­er­ees to make mistakes, what FIFA are do­ing is del­i­cate and dan­ger­ous,” he said. — AFP

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