ZURICH: Sepp Blatter has reportedly written to all FIFA member associations protesting his innocence.
The suspended president of the world football federation and UEFA head Michel Platini face disciplinary hearings before the ethics committee later this week over allegations of misconduct in office.
Both men risk possible worldwide bans of between four and seven years from the Germans ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert in Zurich though it is expected that, if found culpable and sanctioned, they would appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Blatter’s case will be heard on Thursday with Platini’s following on Friday. A decision is expected to be announced by Monday next week.
Swiss media reports suggest Blatter has denied all wrongdoing in a letter sent to all 209 national associations.
Blatter wrote: “I am bewildered by the insinuations and allegations brought against me. I have now been employed by FIFA for 40 years – since 1998 as its president.
“I have always performed my duties to the best of my knowledge and belief and at all times faced up to the challenges with respect, honesty and fair play. These are values passed on to me by my parents which I have always lived by both in a professional and personal capacity.”
He insisted that the disputed ‘disloyal payment’ of SFr2m to Platini “was legal” and had been “put through the full administrative process, the correctness of which was confirmed by all competent FIFA bodies – including the Congress.”
The “tendentious and dangerous” manner of the ethics committee investigation reminded him of “the practices of the [Spanish] Inquisition.”
Whatever the verdict he would continue fighting to prove his innocence.
Blatter was re-elected last May for a fifth term in office but, in the wake of the first FIFAGate arrest, indicated four days later that he intended to step down. An election to choose his successor will be held in Zurich on February 26.