Monday November 23rd, 2015

Suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter told Swiss broadcaster RTS he nearly died during his recent week-long hospitalization, the Associated Press reports.

Blatter did not name his illness, which has been described as a stress-related breakdown, but said it brought him “between the angels singing and the devil’s fire,” in his first television interview since his Nov. 12 release from the hospital.

RTS reported Blatter was in an intensive care unit for several days, and Blatter said he was happy he never lost consciousness over the 48 hours when he was the sickest.

Blatter, 79, was suspended for 90 days by FIFA’s Ethics Committee on Oct. 8 as result of an ongoing criminal investigation into his alleged mismanagement of FIFA funds. He filed an appeal two days after the suspension was handed down, and was hospitalized less than a month later.

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Last week, Blatter and UEFA president Michel Platini lost appeals of their suspensions, which stem from an investigation into a $2 million payment Blatter made to Platini in 2011. A further appeal of the suspensions is expected to be heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport this week.

The men have maintained that the payment was a backdated portion of Platini’s salary for serving as Blatter’s adviser. Blatter told RTS that because Platini is an “honest man” he should be reconsidered for the special election for FIFA president scheduled for February.

“If he comes back, he will be elected,” Blatter said. “And then if he comes back, I’m coming back also.”

Blatter announced in May that he would step down as FIFA president in February after 17 years in office. Platini was once considered the favorite to replace Blatter, but was left off the official ballot due to his suspended status.

- Erin Flynn

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