Sepp Blatter's lawyer says the FIFA president told staff he has done nothing illegal

Sepp Blatter told his staff he has done "nothing illegal or improper," the FIFA president's legal team said Monday.

Blatter was back at FIFA headquarters three days after being interrogated by Swiss investigators at the scandal-battered governing body's headquarters.

Blatter is expected to hand over power in February when an emergency election is held, triggered by the president's resignation statement four days after being re-elected for a fifth, four-year term in May.

But the 79-year-old Blatter does not appear to be planning any sudden exit despite being the subject of a criminal investigation over his management of world soccer.

"President Blatter spoke to FIFA staff today and informed the staff that he was cooperating with the authorities, reiterated that he had done nothing illegal or improper and stated that he would remain as president of FIFA," Blatter's attorney, Richard Cullen, said in a statement.

Blatter was questioned by Swiss investigators on Friday about why FIFA paid 2 million Swiss francs (about $2 million) to UEFA President Michel Platini in 2011 for work supposedly carried out at least nine years earlier. Blatter denied wrongdoing and Platini, who is also a FIFA vice president, was only questioned as a witness.

"President Blatter on Friday shared with the Swiss authorities the fact that Mr. Platini had a valuable employment relationship with FIFA serving as an adviser to the president beginning in 1998," Cullen said. "He explained to the prosecutors that the payments were valid compensation and nothing more and were properly accounted for within FIFA including the withholding of Social Security contributions."

The statement did not reference allegations Blatter undervalued the awarding of World Cup rights to former vice president Jack Warner.

"Because of the continuing investigation President Blatter will answer no further questions at this time," Cullen's statement concluded.

As FIFA was attempting to contain the latest escalation in the corruption scandal, meetings shaping leaders of the future who can potentially salvage the body's reputation were being held at headquarters.

FIFA's women's leadership development program is intended to spur gender equality at the world body and its regional affiliates. Thirty-five aspiring female leaders have come to Zurich to learn from 16 mentors.

"Undoubtedly, FIFA's decision making in the future will be better if more women are included at the top table," FIFA executive committee member Moya Dodd told The Associated Press.

The former Australia player is one of three female members of the FIFA's ruling body, which has lost several executives in recent years because of corruption.


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