FIFA President Blatter says he was near death in hospital, thinks Platini can win election

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Without specifying his illness, Sepp Blatter said in excerpts from a television interview that he was near death when hospitalized for stress-related problems this month.

The suspended FIFA president was "between the angels singing and the devil's fire," he told Swiss broadcaster RTS in his first television interview since leaving the hospital on Nov. 12.

"But it was the angels which sang," Blatter said, adding "happily I never lost consciousness" during the 48 hours when most ill.

Parts of the interview were released ahead Wednesday's full broadcast.

The French-language broadcaster said in a news report late Sunday that the 79-year-old Blatter was treated in intensive care for several days.

Blatter acknowledged he had been under "enormous pressure," with personal legal problems arising from a $2 million payment of FIFA money he authorized to Michel Platini in 2011 as backdated salary.

Swiss federal prosecutors opened criminal proceedings against Blatter in September for alleged criminal mismanagement, over the Platini deal and an undervalued sale of Caribbean TV rights for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.

Blatter was suspended on Oct. 8 by the FIFA ethics committee and is awaiting a full hearing there, likely in December. He faces a ban from soccer of at least several years.

His appeal against the 90-day ban should be heard within days at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Platini faces similar hearings, seeking to revive his stalled campaign to succeed Blatter in the FIFA presidential election on Feb. 26.

Blatter insisted to RTS that Platini, his former protege and the UEFA president, is "an honest man" who should be cleared of wrongdoing.

"If he comes back, he will be elected," Blatter said. "And then if he comes back, I'm coming back also."

Blatter repeated his legal defense that a verbal agreement for Platini to receive the money was a valid contract in Swiss law. Platini worked as Blatter's adviser from 1998-2002.

Their rift between the two in recent years deepened as Blatter refused to stand aside and give Platini a clearer run at the top job.

Blatter acknowledged to RTS his regret at not deciding to step down after a successful 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Two days before the May 2015 election in Zurich, American and Swiss federal prosecutors revealed their investigations of bribery and corruption implicating FIFA and senior officials.