Buenos Aires - Former FIFA president Sepp
Blatter said he had witnessed rigged draws for European football competitions
using "hot and cold balls," in an interview with an Argentine
newspaper published Monday.
Blatter said no draw for a FIFA event had
been fixed during his 18 years at the helm of world football's governing body,
but said he had seen it done for European competitions.
"I never touched the balls," said
Blatter, referring to the plastic balls containing the teams' names that are
used in supposedly random draws for events like the World Cup or Champions
"Of course, you can mark them (by)
heating them or cooling them," he told La Nacion.
"I witnessed draws at the European
level where that happened. But never at FIFA. Of course it can be done."
Pressed for details by the interviewer,
"You put the balls in the refrigerator
beforehand. Just by comparing one and the other when you touch them you can
tell the cold balls from the hot. When you touch them, you know what they
Blatter, 80, defended himself and FIFA
against the corruption accusations that have thrown the organisation into
turmoil and led to the arrest of a laundry list of top football officials.
"Blatter isn't corrupt. They tried to
find something on me, but they won't find any (evidence) I violated any Swiss
law," said the ex-FIFA boss, who has been suspended from football for six
years over a payment of $2 million to Michel Platini, the former head of
European football governing body UEFA.
"FIFA isn't corrupt. An organization
can't be corrupt. Only men are," he said.
Blatter also spoke in the wide-ranging
interview about the former head of the Argentine Football Association, the late
Julio Grondona, whom he called "a good, lovable person."
Pressed by his interviewer, who said
Argentines "think Grondona would be in prison" if he were alive,
Blatter said he had fond memories of the powerful South American football
honcho, except for the fact he used to fall asleep during meetings.
"He slept a third of the time,"
"He closed his eyes and slept with the
translation (headset) in his ears. But if something came up, he jumped. He was
dozing, he was half asleep."
He also recalled Grondona's reaction when
Argentine superstar Diego Maradona was randomly selected for doping tests
during the 1994 World Cup - which he failed.
"Julio made the sign of the cross and
said, 'God help us,'" he said.
"Nobody wanted to give a press
conference, because we were afraid it would destroy the entire World Cup. But
no, for (hosts) the United States, it was no big deal."