Sepp Blatter has sent a letter to FIFA’s member federations likening the current Ethics Committee proceedings brought against him to “the Inquisition”.
FIFA president Blatter and his similarly suspended UEFA counterpart Michel Platini have hearings before the FIFA ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert in Zurich on Thursday in relation to an alleged disloyal payment of two million Swiss francs made to the former France captain in 2011.
Both Blatter and Platini have denied any wrongdoing and the 79-year-old Swiss accused the Ethics Committee of having “reinforced public prejudgement” in a “dangerous” fashion in a letter distributed to football’s 209 national governing bodies.
“I am bewildered by the insinuations and allegations brought against me by the investigatory chamber of the Ethics Committee,” the letter read.
“I have now been employed by FIFA for 40 years – since 1998 as its President. During this period I have always performed my duties to the best of my knowledge and belief and at all times faced up to the challenges with respect, honesty and fair play.
“In my current case, the adjudicatory chamber of the Ethics Committee must pass judgement on the legality of the bill for two million Swiss francs – stemming from the 1998 agreement between FIFA and Michel Platini – and whose payment (of the remaining amount) was only requested in 2010-11.
“I can assure you that it was legal because it was based on a verbal agreement. And agreements must be adhered to.
“This payment was put through the full administrative process, the correctness of which was confirmed by all competent FIFA bodies – including Congress.
“However, the way in which the investigatory chamber of the Ethics Committee has communicated on the current proceedings, demanded the maximum penalty and reinforced public prejudgement has reached a tendentious and dangerous dimension. These proceedings remind me of the Inquisition.”
Blatter’s assertion of a verbal agreement is in line with the consistent stance of himself and Platini throughout the affair, with the two men respectively describing their arrangement as “a gentleman’s agreement” and a “man-to-man thing”.
Earlier this month, Platini’s legal team disclosed a document to French newspaper Journal du Dimanche that it claimed to be a 1998 UEFA Executive Committee report detailing the payment due to their client.
Last week, a BBC investigation made claims that Blatter would face a fresh investigation by the FBI in relation to a $100m bribery scandal focusing upon ISL and the sports marketing company’s alleged dealings with ex-FIFA executive Ricardo Teixeira and former FIFA president Joao Havelange.
Blatter also denies all accusations stemming from this case and, in his letter, remained bullish over the prospects of clearing his name.
“I will continue to fight for my rights – and at the end of this week, I will present my case before the adjudicatory chamber with great conviction and a strong belief in justice,” he added.
“Although I have been suspended, I am not isolated and will certainly not be silenced. I would like to thank you for your gestures of solidarity towards me. Let us hope that 2016 will be a better year for FIFA.”