Embattled Fifa president Sepp Blatter has compared the internal investigation that threatens to bring an abrupt end to his 17 years as the head of football’s world governing body to the Inquisition.
Blatter’s remarks come as he prepares to appear before Hans-Joachim Eckert, the head of the adjudicatory chamber of Fifa’s ethics committee who could ban the 79-year-old from the game for life, on Thursday.
It follows a probe into a controversial £1.3m payment from Blatter to Michel Platini, a former Fifa vice-president and now chief of European body Uefa. Platini’s hearing is also set for this week.
“I am bewildered by the insinuations and allegations brought against me,” Blatter wrote in a letter to the Football Association and Fifa’s other 208 member federations.
“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 and Platini have been accused of corruption and conflict of interest over the payment, which was made in 2011, nine years after Platini had finished his work for Fifa.
Both men insist that it was above-board and that they are not guilty of any wrongdoing – a point Blatter reiterated in his letter. Fifa is expected to issue a verdict early next week.
“I can assure that it was legal because it was based on a verbal agreement. And agreements must be adhered to,” he wrote. “The payment was put through the full administrative process, the correctness of which was confirmed by all competent Fifa bodies – including the congress.”
Blatter has already pledged to stand down as president in February, when a new leader of the crisis-hit organisation is due to be elected. Platini had hoped to stand but will be denied if he is banned.