Sepp Blatter’s controversial $2 million payment to Michel Platini was part of a “gentleman’s agreement” between the two top FIFA officials, Blatter told Swiss broadcaster RROTV.
“[It] was a contract I had with Platini, a gentleman’s agreement and that went through,” Blatter said in the interview.
The lack of a written contract for the 2011 transaction, which Platini says was an unpaid portion of his salary for working as Blatter’s adviser from 1998 to 2002, has drawn suspicion. Investigation into the payment by the FIFA ethics committee led to both men being suspended for 90 days from their positions as FIFA and UEFA presidents beginning on Oct. 8.
The transaction is also a subject of the Swiss investigation into Blatter for criminal mismanagement and misappropriation of FIFA money. Blatter is accused of intentionally mismanaging FIFA funds in order to make bribery payments.
Amid the recent controversy surrounding world soccer’s governing body, Blatter had said he would step down as FIFA president effective in February. A special election is scheduled for Feb. 26, and Platini had emerged as a favorite to replace Blatter before his suspension.
On Friday, the English Football Association withdrew its support for Platini as a candidate.
Both Blatter and Platini have appealed their suspensions, which could be extended for up to 45 additional days. If the bans were extended, they would end six days before the election.
- Erin Flynn