Sepp Blatter has not ruled out staying in his role beyond next year’s Fifa presidential election, despite facing a criminal investigation and a possible ethics probe.
Blatter’s former public relations adviser Klaus Stoehlker suggested as much in an interview with Reuters.
The Swiss attorney general’s office (OAG) opened criminal proceedings against Blatter on Friday, saying he was suspected of making a “disloyal payment” of 2 million Swiss francs (£1.3 million) to Michael Platini. Moreover, the World Cup TV contract Blatter signed on behalf of Fifa with the Caribbean Football Union’s former chief, Jack Warner, is also under investigation.
Blatter announced in June, following the indictment of 14 individuals that he would step down at a special elective congress on February 26, 2016.
However Stoehlker said the 79-year-old may renege on that promise.
“About 10 days ago he gave an in-house conference at Fifa and he said to everyone there, ‘we don’t know what will happen on February 26 but when there will be no candidate elected, I (will) feel obligated to stay’,” said Stoehlker.
Stoehlker said he had spoken to Blatter in recent days and found him unperturbed by the ongoing investigations.
“Sepp Blatter is not nervous, he is not limited in his analysis, he is fully relaxed. He is leading Fifa until this moment, then he will see if there is a candidate who is able to step into his shoes,” he said.
However Stoehlker said Blatter would not nominate himself for re-election ahead of the October 26 deadline.
“No he is not a candidate because the president is the president,” he added. “The question is only … that (if) there is no other candidate who is able to win, so he has to go on.”
Theoretically, congress could cancel the election and if there is only one candidate for president, voters would be given a choice of voting “yes” or “no”.
A spokesperson for Fifa declined to comment on the prospect of Blatter remaining in office beyond February and said: “Mr Stoehlker does not represent Mr Blatter in his current capacity as Fifa president, as such Fifa does not comment on statements by Mr Stoehlker.”
Stoehlker claimed he had been given permission by Blatter to discuss his thoughts with the media.
Stoehlker said Blatter retained the full support of Fifa’s Exco, and remained in charge of the organization.
“His mood is perfect,” he continued. “He was hunted for the last six months and somehow he has to balance it. But what happened in just the last four weeks is that Exco is behind him. At the last Exco, 100 percent of what he proposed was accepted by the Exco. The whole Exco, the government of Fifa is behind their president.”
Fifa’s ethics committee is reported to be investigating Blatter, following Friday’s announcement by the Swiss authorities.
Stoehlker acknowledged that the 79-year-old’s position could become untenable as a result of the multiple inquiries.
“There is a certain risk that all these organizations are eating him up,” he said.