US TODAY – Sepp Blatter blamed the U.S. for the eight-year ban handed down by FIFA over ethics violations on Monday, an apparent jab at a federal investigation responsible for several indictments of officials from soccer’s international governing body.
“If we had awarded the World Cup in 2022 to the USA, we would not be here,” Blatter said in Italian at a meandering, nearly one-hour news conference.
Blatter was found guilty of violating FIFA’s ethics rules, allegations that centered around a $2 million payment Blatter approved for Michel Platini, a FIFA vice president and head of the Union of European Football Associations. Platini, once the former front-runner to replace Blatter, also received an eight-year suspension. Both had already received provisional bans.
“I told him that FIFA could not pay him all the money now. We will pay you part of it later on,” Blatter said about the payment in 2011 that coincided with Platini’s decision not to challenge Blatter for president. “He asked for the payment later on. The debt existed.”
While Blatter has not been charged with a crime, many of his former FIFA colleagues are under federal indictments over alleged bribery in the bidding for prior World Cups.