Basel - Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter
said on Friday he "is available" to appear as a witness at a United
States trial into mass corruption in world football.
"Yes. When they need me to defend
FIFA, I will be available," Blatter said, when asked if he would be
prepared to attend the trial into the sweeping bribery scandal that has sparked
an unprecedented crisis at the top of the game.
US prosecutors were hoping the hearing of
39 officials and marketing executives accused of soliciting and receiving tens
of millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks would begin in February 2017.
But on Thursday, the US judge overseeing
the corruption scandal postponed setting a trial date until after prosecutors
share the bulk of evidence being collated in the massive investigation.
Blatter, with suspended European football
chief Michel Platini, was banned from all football activities for eight years
in December over an infamous $2 million payment Platini received in 2011 from
the then-FIFA president.
The suspensions were cut to six years in
Blatter, since replaced as FIFA president
by Gianni Infantino, is awaiting a date for an appeal against his ban to the
Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Platini was told earlier on Friday his CAS
appeal will be heard on April 29.
Blatter, attending a debate on FIFA reforms
at Basel University, commented: "It's good news that CAS has made progress
with Platini's case. I think my case will be handled shortly after."
The 80-year-old Swiss added: "I
believe that now, finally, at CAS, they are going to talk about justice, and
not just speculation.
"That means it's justice that will
prove if the accused is guilty and not the accused who has to prove his
He says his appeal is based on the
principle that "the Blatters pay their debts".
He explained: "There was a contract
between the FIFA president and Platini, an oral contract and then indeed a
"And so I paid the debt, generally
when you pay a debt you are thanked. But in this case because I paid the debt
"According to the principles instilled
in me by my father who for me was a paragon of virtue, ' we, Blatters, pay our
"And that's also the principle that we
adhere to at FIFA."
He made clear that should CAS reject his
appeal, he will not give up trying to clear his name.
"There are other ways to get the ban
lifted," he suggested, saying he could take his case to Swiss justice, or
take out a civil action.
"But for me I'm confident CAS will
overturn the decision," he stated.
Irrespective of the outcome of his CAS
hearing, Blatter plans to attend the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia as a guest
of Russian President Vladimir Putin, although if he were to attend a match he
would be flouting the terms of his suspension.
"I've got an invitation to go to Russia,"
"I will go Russia. Going to Russia
doesn't mean that I'm going to watch games. They can't stop me travelling. I go
where I want to."
He refused to pass comment on his successor
Infantino's performance since taking over the top job in football in February.
"I don't have a verdict. I don't even
know his programme and I'm letting him get on with it."