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Disgraced ex-president Blatter slams 'rude and disrespectful' Infantino but insists FIFA is not corrupt or 'a mafia'

21:55 SAST 2022/03/14
Blatter, Infantino
The former chief has criticised his successor and insists the governing body is not rife with corruption

Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter has taken a swipe at current incumbent Gianni Infantino, labelling him "rude and disrespectful".

Infantino took over at the helm of world football's governing body in 2016 after Blatter was suspended and subsequently suspended from FIFA over payments to ex-UEFA chief Michel Platini.

In December 2015, Blatter was suspended for eight years, later reduced to six, and then given a further six-year ban in March 2021. In November last year, it was confirmed that the pair will be charged with fraud and other offences by Swiss prosecutors.

What has been said?

The 86-year-old says he discussed his situation with Infantino following his election as president, but was then snubbed by his compatriot.

"I met Mr. Infantino. I met twice after his election, in 2016," the Swiss told ABC.

"I met him at my house, where he stopped by to discuss FIFA issues. 

"He told me that I gave him problems that were not solved when they suspended me from FIFA and he told me that we are going to fix it later in a second congress in Mexico. 

"And later, in that congress I did not receive any information. 

"Finally I asked the general secretary what happened to the president and his promise to solve my problems and the answer was that the current president and FIFA were not going to discuss directly with the former president, but only through the lawyers . 

"It was the only and the last information I received from that man. I must say that he is rude. It was disrespectful."

Asked if Infantino could be harmful to football, Blatter said: "You cannot harm football because it is a universal game that will continue in the centuries to come. 

"But it is possible that his attitude could affect FIFA. FIFA is made up of 213 associations and if any of them do not agree, they can intervene in the congresses. 

"Unfortunately we have not held conferences in recent years due to the coronavirus issue. But I think that next year one will be organized. It is the national associations that must intervene if they are not happy."

Blatter denies FIFA is corrupt

Two days before Blatter was re-elected FIFA president in 2015, a series of arrests were made in relation to corruption charges, including racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering.

Among those indicted were 14 current and former FIFA officials and associates following an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States.

FIFA was criticised as being corrupt and a sort of mafia under Blatter, but the former president insists there is no systemic corruption going on at the governing body.

"FIFA doesn't. But some people continue who naturally do not correspond to the 'fair play' of football," he added. 

"Those are individual people. I don't know how many, but 10 or more FIFA members at the time, all from South and North America, were arrested in Switzerland, don't tell me why there, and were sent to the United States. 

"And some were punished for corruption. But FIFA itself is not going to be punished for corruption or being a mafia. 

"FIFA is two million people who are in the whole world to participate in this game. Naturally, of those people who make it up there are some individuals who are not so correct, but to say that FIFA is a corruption or a mafia is wrong. 

"That's not fair. Neither mafia, nor corruption."

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