Former FIFA chief Blatter faces third meeting with Swiss prosecutor


Geneva (AFP) – Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter will meet with a Swiss prosecutor for a third straight day, following a second meeting Tuesday in a probe surrounding a suspect payment to Michel Platini.

Former world football chief Blatter is being investigated over a two million Swiss franc ($2.2 million, 1.85 million euro) FIFA payment in 2011 to Platini, who was then in charge of European football’s governing body UEFA.

In final hearings in the investigation, Blatter met with a federal prosecutor from the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) of Switzerland on Monday in Zurich, where FIFA has its headquarters.

Due to Blatter’s fragile health, he can only stay for a couple of hours at a time.

He returned on Tuesday to continue the hearing for a further 90 minutes, and his spokesman Thomas Renggli said afterwards that Blatter would return again on Wednesday — and possibly on Thursday too.

“Mr. Blatter is happy, but not with the prosecutors’ questions. It’s a bit ridiculous. The suspicions about him are a little absurd,” Renggli told AFP.

Under the Swiss Code of Criminal Procedure, in lengthy and complex proceedings, suspects “are questioned one last time before the investigation is concluded”, the OAG said.

While Platini’s final interview with the prosecutor was in March, Blatter’s hearing was postponed to August due to the retired Swiss football administrator’s health.

He spent two months in hospital in December and January after undergoing heart surgery, and in March was convalescing in a clinic.

Joseph “Sepp” Blatter joined FIFA in 1975, became its general secretary in 1981 and the president of world football’s governing body in 1998.

He was forced to stand down in 2015 and was banned by FIFA for eight years, later reduced to six, over ethics breaches for authorising what prosecutors termed a “disloyal payment” to Platini — in other words, one made in his own interests rather than FIFA’s.

“The criminal proceedings against Joseph Blatter are now being conducted on suspicion of fraud, breach of trust and unfaithful business management,” the OAG said in a statement ahead of Monday’s hearing.

In a statement ahead of the hearing, Blatter insisted the payment to former France and Juventus attacking midfielder Platini, 66, was above board.

“It was based on an oral contract that regulated Platini’s advisory activities for FIFA between 1998 and 2002,” he said.

“The process was correctly declared as a late payment of wages.”

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