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Blatter blames FIFA crisis on Platini, England and USA


  Moscow : Sepp Blatter blames Michel Platini, England and the United States for igniting and escalating the corruption scandal engulfing FIFA.

“At the start it was only a personal attack, it was Platini against me, then it was no longer only Platini against me,” the suspended head of football’s world governing body told Russian news agency Tass today.

“It was also those who had lost (hosting) the World Cups. “England against Russia (the 2018 hosts), and the United States who lost the (2022) World Cup to Qatar,” the 78-year-old Swiss claimed.

He said he as boss of FIFA and the World Cup had become pawns in a political game.

“The football World Cup and the president of FIFA were only a ball in the middle of a game between super powers.”

For Blatter, Platini, the suspended head of European football and one of seven candidates for the February 26 election to succeed him, was the root cause of the scandal.

“Platini wanted to be FIFA president, but he didn’t have the courage to put himself forward (in the May 29 election in which Blatter saw off Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein for his fifth term of office).

“And now look where we are! And the victim of all this at the end of the day is Platini himself!”

Both Blatter and Platini are serving suspensions from all football-related matters over a $2million (1.8 million euro) payment the UEFA boss received from Blatter on behalf of FIFA in 2011 for consultancy work carried out years before.

Blatter is facing criminal proceedings over the payment and the sale of cut-price television rights.

The ban means Platini, one-time favourite to succeed Blatter, can take no part in the election campaign until the suspension is lifted and he is cleared of any potential wrongdoing.

FIFA announced Wednesday that Platini was one of seven official candidates to succeed Blatter.

The others are Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, Musa Bility, Jerome Champagne, Gianni Infantino,  Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa and Tokyo Sexwale.

The next step will see the Ad-hoc Electoral Committee review the results of the integrity checks before formally declaring which candidates can stand for the FIFA presidency.

The election next February comes as FIFA is engulfed in a massive corruption probe that has resulted in 90-day bans on Platini and the organisation’s long-standing president Sepp Blatter who is standing down after 17 years in the position.

Those suspensions run out on January 5. Platini, who starred as a footballer in the 1980s for Juventus and France, had been seen as a strong favourite to take over the FIFA presidency when an under-pressure Blatter announced in June he was standing down.

But as the corruption probe widened, the Frenchman found himself dragged into the scandal over a $2million clandestine payment he received from Blatter on behalf of FIFA in 2011 for consultancy work carried out years before.

Platini has insisted he did nothing wrong, but FIFA suspended him all the same, seriously undermining his hopes of capturing one of the top jobs in world sport.

Until then his only declared opposition had been from Jordanian royal Prince Ali, who had already contested the FIFA presidency in May, losing to Blatter.

But the suspension triggered a flurry of late activity with powerful Asian football chief Sheikh Salman, former FIFA official Champagne, South African anti-apartheid campaigner Sexwale, UEFA general secretary Infantino and Liberian football chief Bility all throwing their hats into the ring.

The contest to win votes for the presidency is already underway and will gather pace, but Platini will be hampered by the fact that he cannot campaign while his ban is in place. His lawyers have launched an appeal for it to be lifted.

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