Suspended Fifa president goes on the offensive as he lambasts Europe and England.

Sepp Blatter, in an almost daily campaign to proclaim his innocence before football and the wider world, has again denied all wrongdoing one day before his decisive FIFA ethics committee hearing.

He has also sought to justify his work and derided critics who confused the corrupt behaviour of certain individuals with a perception of climate of corruption without FIFA generally.

The 79-year-old was suspended provisionally by the ethics committe in October pending a full investigation into allegations of misconduct in office stemming from a Swiss criminal investigation.

One particular issue concerns his authorisation in 2011 of a SFr2m ‘disloyal payment’ to the French president of European federation UEFA Michel Platini.

Blatter, bitterly angry that the ethics committee his administration created had now apparently turned against him, protested against suggestions that he might be suspended from football for life.

‘Shocked’

He said, in an interview with selected European newspapers: “For life? Disqualified for life? Even Platini. What did we do? Did we take all the money and escaped from FIFA? Did we kill someone?

“I’m shocked. I was suspended for 90 days without the ethics committee even listening to me. So I will go with my excellent lawyer to defend myself: I want to be heard by the courts. In Switzerland they can not sentence you to life without hearing you defend yourself.

“I wrote that to all the 209 national associations so that they know too that, in all my life, I have never accepted any money I did not earn and I have always paid what I owed.”

Blatter insisted that the payment to Platini, for work the Frenchman had undertaken for FIFA between 1999 and 2o02, was entirely proper.

He said: “I assure you that the payment to Platini was legitimate yet now I’m experiencing something that looks like the Inquisition.”

Explaining the circumstances of the payment, Blatter added: “At the end of 1998 Michel told me: ‘I would like to work with you’. I said: ‘You are welcome’. He said: ‘Look, I’m a little expensive, a million a year ‘.

“I told him:’ Let’s see what I can do ‘. It was a valid verbal contract. There was the Goal project to help the poorest countries, there was the international calendar. He was working well.

“Then, surprisingly, he was elected to the executive committees of UEFA and FIFA – surprisingly for me because Europe did not love him because he was working with me. I did not concern myself any further with the matter of the payment, for one reason or another, but I gave the order to pay.

“The request is passed to the finance committee whose work is authorised by the Congress. ”

Carraro confusion

Challenged that Italian Franco Carraro, head of the audit committee, has denied all knowledge of the payment, Blatter insisted: “He was the auditor. The first part of the payment is in the budget, the second is not, but I’m not a FIFA accountant. Whether it was in the budget or not it was a debt that had to be paid.”

Blatter went on to refute the attacks on FIFA as an organisation.

He said: “All this trouble [the FIFAGate arrests, etc] all emerged around the World Cup qualifying competitions in the Americas. But FIFA cannot know the contracts of all the confederations.”

Then he narrowed down his focus of attack to the European federation and England.

Blatter said: “There is an anti-virus Blatter which should be eradicated. It started in UEFA and extends to the British. The British Prime Minister said to the European Union that I should not be president of FIFA. A political gesture!

“Platini would have been my natural successor, but it did not happen. He was attacked by the same virus. He is an an honest man. Maybe a bit of prima donna. But not all of Europe is on his side. Many are with me and against him. Angel Villar, from Spain, he has stood by me.”

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