London - FIFA President Sepp Blatter, under criminal
investigation by Swiss authorities, plans to remain in his job until February
and told staff at the world soccer governing body on Monday that he had done
nothing illegal or improper, Blatter's lawyers said.
An emailed statement from Blatter's personal lawyers, Lorenz
Erni of Switzerland and Richard Cullen of the United States, also defended
payments that Zurich-based FIFA made to Michel Platini, president of the UEFA
soccer confederation, as "valid compensation" for Platini's work as
Swiss prosecutors said on Friday they had opened a criminal
investigation into Blatter on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and
misappropriation of funds. Authorities interrogated Blatter at FIFA
headquarters and seized unspecified data from his office.
Also read: For Blatter, Swiss raid shows FIFA probe moving closer to home
The prosecutors said Blatter was suspected of a
"disloyal payment" of 2 million Swiss francs ($2.05 million) to
Platini in 2011 at the expense of FIFA, said to have been for work performed
between January 1999 and June 2002.
Blatter told Swiss authorities on Friday that Platini
"had a valuable employment relationship with FIFA" as an adviser,
Blatter's personal lawyers said.
"He explained to the prosecutors that the payments were
valid compensation and nothing more and were properly accounted for within FIFA
including the withholding of Social Security contributions," the lawyers
Platini made his own defense of the payments on Monday. The
onetime soccer star for France said in a statement that he had not been accused
of wrongdoing and that the money was fully declared to authorities in
accordance with Swiss law. Platini offered to help FIFA's Ethics Committee to
resolve any issues over the payment.
Blatter has said he plans to resign the presidency after an
election in February.
He is also being investigated by U.S. prosecutors and the
FBI as part of a sweeping probe into allegations of corruption in the world's
most popular sport.For
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