On the day after the organization that he has led for all of the 21st century banned him for eight years, FIFA president Sepp Blatter, 79, made the ban academic, announcing his retirement from soccer. He declared, “I’ve finished my work in football.”
Blatter told the Wall Street Journal that he plans to appeal the ban, which he called “nonsense.”
On Monday, Blatter and suspended UEFA president Michel Platini were both banned for eight years for conflict of interest in a two-million Swiss franc payment deal. Blatter was fined 50,000 francs; Platini, 80,000 francs. Blatter is under criminal investigation by Switzerland’s Federal Office of Justice.
Blatter defended his actions, asserting that Platini, his apparent successor, told him before he voted for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup, “Careful. If we vote for Qatar, the next day everyone will say that FIFA sold itself out.” Blatter continued, “He told me that. And then a week later, he says something changed.”
Blatter asserted that Platini changed his mind about Qatar after being pressured by then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy and a member of the Qatari royal family, adding, “Since I’ve been at FIFA, the World Cup has always been allocated on the recommendation—to not say more—of governments.”
Blatter also put blame on his right-hand man at FIFA, Jérôme Valcke, who was released from FIFA after Valcke was accused of making money from selling a personal cache of World Cup tickets. Blatter opined, “He never forgave me for that. For me, the tickets had nothing to do with it. It was his personal attitude.” He snapped that Valcke “is really a salesman who goes straight ahead without looking to see if there’s collateral damage.”
The Swiss and FIFA investigations aver that a “disloyal payment” of two million Swiss francs was given in 2011 by FIFA to Platini, which Platini avowed was for advisory work. Blatter said that another factor in awarding the World Cup to Qatar in 2022 was a deal between representatives from Spain and Qatar in which Spain would support the 2022 Qatar bid if that Qatar’s supported Spain and Portugal’s 2018 bid. Blatter added, “They said it in the Executive Committee. It was no secret that Spain was with Qatar
Blatter boasted, “I spent 40 years at FIFA. It doesn’t bother me to talk about the past, because the past was more brilliant for me than the future.”