KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS —- Sepp Blatter’s daughter Corinne has said she was afraid the 79-year-old president of world football federation FIFA would be taken away in handcuffs nine days ago after being questioned by Swiss federal investigators.
In the wake of a demand by four World Cup sponsors that Blatter quit now, her concerns were expressed in an interview with the Swiss newspaper Blick.
Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Visa and Anheuser Busch InBev – notably only the United States sponsors of the World Cup – had issued co-ordinated statements late Friday to which Blatter responded with a defiant rejection.
Subsequently his daughter recalled events of September 25 when Swiss investigators ‘ambushed’ both Blatter and UEFA president Michel Platini after an executive committee meeting in Zurich.
Her father had been questioned for eight hours and she criticised the methods of the investigators despatched by Swiss Attorney-General Michael Lauber.
On his return home later that night “he looked shocked and disappointed. Especially since no one had warned him in advance, which should be standard practice in such a criminal investigations.”
She added: “Had he been asked to provide more documents then he would have done it immediately. He has always cooperated. This time he was completely taken by surprise.
“I was afraid that they would take him away in handcuffs. He only said: ‘I think it’s a dream.’
“The interrogation began before noon and was finished around 8pm. In between there were short breaks. His office was never sealed, as was reported in some places. The officers ransacked it but then they left it open again.”
Corinne Blatter recalled that she had advised her father to step down as president this year rather than pursue a fifth term.
She said: “In 2011 I said to him: ‘Four more years and that’s enough!’ But a majority of national associations asked him to continue. Now I know he wants to quit – and he will do it.”
Media to blame
“The media has ruined his reputation. Why do they all shoot him down? What did he do to them? I have no idea. This is not only envy, it is hatred.
“He suffers now because no-one wants to talk about what he has done in 40 years at FIFA. When he took over FIFA he found it deeply in the red. Then he built it into a billion-dollar empire. That people can now play football in 209 countries is largely down to him.”
Corinne Blatter said her father had never considered resignation.
She added: “Never. He does not run away when things get difficult . . . My father is not a criminal. He would give away the shirt on his back. He is not out to enrich himself.”
She confirmed original perceptions that Blatter and UEFA president Michel Platini had liked each other and had been good friends.
She did not know what had gone wrong, saying only: “My father has never spoken to me about it. I only know that the friendship broke down.”
Platini remains favourite to be elected new president of FIFA an an extraordinary congress next February 26. Other serious contenders include Prince Ali of Jordan – who denied Blatter a first-round knockout win last May – and South Korean Chung Mong-joon, a former FIFA vice-president for 17 years.
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