Sepp Blatter has told Swiss TV that he had a “gentleman’s agreement” with Michel Platini over a payment at the centre of a criminal investigation that led to suspensions for both officials.
Blatter, president of the world governing body Fifa, and his Uefa counterpart, Platini, were suspended for 90 days by the governing body’s ethics committee following the disclosure that Blatter had authorised a 2.6 million Swiss Francs payment to the Uefa president.
Platini insist that the payment was for consultancy work he carried out for Blatter between 1998-2002. However, the lack of any verifying documentation and the fact that the money was not paid until 2011 – the year that Platini supported Blatter’s presidential re-election bid – resulted in the Swiss authorities launching an investigation.
“It was a contract I had with Michel Platini, a gentleman’s agreement and that was followed through on,” Blatter told broadcaster RROTV in an interview published on Friday.
Meanwhile, in a further blow to Platini’s presidential ambitions, the Football Association says it is suspending support for the Frenchman.
An FA statement read: “The FA wishes Mr Platini every success in fighting these charges and clearing his name, and has no interest in taking any action that jeopardises this process.
“However, notwithstanding the above, at the Uefa meeting on Thursday, the FA learned more information relating to the issues at the centre of this case from Mr Platini’s lawyers.
“We have been instructed that the information must be kept confidential and therefore we cannot go into specifics.
“As a result of learning this information, the FA Board has this morning concluded that it must suspend its support for Mr Platini’s candidature for the Fifa presidency until the legal process has been concluded and the position is clear.
“A decision can then be taken on who to support in the presidential election on 26 February 2016.”