ZURICH: Sepp Blatter has described Michel Platini as an “honest man” in an interview given to Swiss television to be broadcast on Wednesday writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Blatter had been asked about the infamous verbal contract under which Platini was paid SFr2m in February 2011 for work he had completed nine years earlier.

The money has been assessed as a ‘disloyal payment’ by Swiss judicial investigators, prompting a formal criminal investigation into Blatter and FIFA ethics suspensions and inquiries into the conduct of both men.

Blatter said: “There was a contract. Even in the FIFA regulations it says that a contract may be made either in writing or verbally.”

As to whether Platini, French president of European governing body UEFA, would make a good president of FIFA, Blatter said: “Yes.”

Platini, while suspended, is excluded from the electoral campaign which is due to end with the vote for a new president to succeed Blatter next February 26.

Both men risk imminent sanctions from the FIFA ethics committee but are already committed to appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Platini still hopes to clear his name and stand for president.

Blatter believes that, in that case, Platini would be favourite to win.

He said: “If he comes back, he will be elected – and then, if he comes back, I will come back too.”

Blatter also suggested that recent concerns about his health, when he spent 10 days in hospital, were more serious than had been admitted.

He said: “I was close [to death]. The pressure was enormous. If you are strong mentally, you can resist, but at some point the body says ‘No’, and here it is the body that has reacted badly.

“I was between the angels singing and the devils’ fire. But it was the angels which sang.”

FIFA’s reform committee is considering whether to recommend a term limit for the president as well as an age limit of 74. Blatter is 79.

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