Colin Abgrall 7:59 p.m., Jan 23, 2022, amended 8:05 p.m., Jan 23, 2022

President of Fifa from 1998 to 2015, Sepp Blatter is a key figure in world football.

He answers questions from Lionel Rosso and Cyrille de la Morinerie, in an exceptional interview for Europe 1 Sport, carried out from Zurich, the headquarters of Fifa.

EXCLUSIVE

During this exclusive interview, the former Swiss leader talks about his legal troubles, proclaims his innocence and reiterates his support for Michel Platini in the Fifagate affair.

He also talks about his successor, Gianni Infantino, as well as the project of a World Cup every two years.

This interview mixes many subjects and is the moment of revelations from Sepp Blatter.

On his health: "I can breathe normally"

"I live again. Because last year at this time I was in a clinic for a while. I who believed that I was very strong, I had to pay for the lack of vacation during my period as president of Fifa from 1998 to 2015, because working day and night, traveling, traveling, traveling… Suddenly my heart and my body gave out. Fortunately my head remained serene although affected by hallucinations, but I am again back after three months of absence in different clinics. Since April 1 of last year, I can breathe normally, I am recovered, I live and I live well, my brain has not been damaged too much."

Football today: "We have become a victim of the popularity of sport"

"First of all I am very happy and happy that football continues to play and that football organizations continue to organize matches, in small clubs... This game is important in a very difficult period in which the world finds itself today. I must say that football is still there.

What struck me last year were the huge sums we pay today.

For example, the transfer of Messi to PSG.

The money that is available, the contracts that are made to new players… One wonders if this is still normal.

But you can't control the fundamental economic principle of supply and demand, and there you have become a victim of the popularity of the sport."

Fan violence: "It's no use closing the stadiums"

"It's a question that touches me. We tried everything. Before, we talked about racism. But it's not just racism, there's violence that has entered the stadiums again. We took very strong decisions but we do not apply them. The responsibility always lies with the organizer, the organizer of the match, the league or the federation which organizes football... But if there are excesses, we must It is useless to close the stadium for one or two matches, or to issue monetary fines.

The only solution is to remove points.

But you have to take away nine points, not two points.

At least six or nine points, or eliminate directly when it comes to a cut.

The football pyramid should not only be controlled from below (ie the clubs) but also from above, by the higher body, Fifa and the President of Fifa: they are the ones who must take the lead in Controlling football is of paramount importance."

On FIFA President Gianni Infantino: 'He's not a good president'

"He is not doing his job properly. When he arrived at the presidency of Fifa through incomprehensible meanders, he fired 80 people including 30 directors. He wants to leave Zurich (Infantino moved to Qatar). But for the Zurich is the headquarters of Fifa. If we could talk together, I could wake him up. He says that in Zurich, we don't receive him well. The headquarters have been in Zurich since 1932, we came in Zurich after the economic, social and political crisis in the 1930s, we came to Switzerland to be quiet, and we are. So why do we want to move the headquarters now?

I have organized four or five World Cups in different countries, I would never have thought of living in the country or the capital of the country organizing the World Cup. The place of the president of Fifa is where the headquarters is and it is in Zurich. It is from there that he must lead FIFA, not elsewhere. I can't say it's outrageous. But I can say that it is incomprehensible that he is going to settle there with his family. It gives a bitter taste. Why does he put himself in the arms of the organizer of the World Cup? We know that Qatar is a big country in the Arab circle, and that they also want to resume football by buying clubs or being in the organization.

He should have thought.

It is a relinquishment of responsibility as the President of Fifa because he must remain where Fifa has its headquarters, especially at a time when we have internal problems.

Fifa can unite people in these times of pandemic.

But instead, ideas were thrown right and left.

Instead of uniting people, we separated them.

It's a lack of global professional vision, because the president of Fifa must have a global view.

It's not just a little corner in Zurich or Qatar, no, it's the world.

The current president, I do not recognize his vision.

He's not a good Fifa president, I have to say."

On the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar: "I couldn't believe it"

"I can only repeat what I said in my two books. Michel Platini telephones me and I confirm it in soul and conscience. I did not invent this phone call from Michel Platini. I wrote it, repeated to Swiss justice and twice to French justice. I can't change that. Unfortunately, I don't record my phones. He tells me that he was invited to a meal at the Elysée and that he met President Nicolas Sarkozy and the Emir of Qatar. They kindly asked him if he could support Qatar. I said to him: 'How do you have to be forced?' He said, 'No, it was recommended to me.' He asked me how I would have done if my president asked me such a thing.

But we don't have a president in Switzerland so the question does not arise.

I was surprised.

I thought, 'Is he letting go of me?'

I couldn't believe it.

Then came the vote.

After the first vote, we should have announced the result immediately.

The result of the second might have changed.

The result of the first vote was Russia.

And if Russia had beaten the candidature of England and especially that of Spain and Portugal (in joint candidature), I think that this group (England, Spain, Portugal) would not have voted for Qatar.

But we won't know."

On the World Cup in Qatar: "32 teams, it's difficult in a small country"

"I regretted it when I announced it. Afterwards, we realized that it wouldn't be easy. We would have done better to read the report of a special commission headed by a Chilean (report by the Organization Labor International, led by Juan Somavia at the time) who said 'we can't play in Qatar' for climatic reasons and because the country is too small. The 32-team World Cup is difficult in a small country. I had the impression that it was a bad decision but I was bound by this decision. We worked on the preparation for this World Cup, every day we received complaints pointing fingers the treatment of workers was difficult.

But to reconsider a decision of the executive committee, especially since the FIFA ethics commission has carried out a study... Michael Garcia (responsible for investigating ethical breaches at FIFA), said that there was no corruption for this World Cup.

We could have withdrawn the World Cup in Qatar.

But I had no specific reason to take away the World Cup in Qatar.

After the report, we confirmed the awarding of the World Cup."

On the World Cup every two years: "It's stupidity"

"It's an imbecility without name. I have to do my mea culpa because, when I was elected president of Fifa, during a first meeting, I said that we could organize a world cup every two years "But people around me told me I was wrong. But today with the overloaded schedule, there is something else. It's always the best players playing but they are already overloaded in their continental competition. and national. And the base of Fifa is the club and not the national team. It's imbecility. We can't, it's bad for football."

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On the Super-Leagues: "It would be the end of football"

"If that happens, I change my will! (Laughs) It would be the end of football. We must avoid sacrificing the football that is played in the little leagues in the clubs. When I cross my canton of Valais, in every place there is There's a football pitch where you play football. Closed leagues are the American model. And my favorite club, Real Madrid (he's an honorary member of the club), is in there. I thinks that's all wrong. Because football, in its educational side, with promotion and relegation. It's important, because you don't lose hope of winning. In a closed league you don't lose anything even if you lose everything… The basis of the game of football is: you learn to win and lose together in the hope of getting better. So a closed league, no! 

On FIFAgate: "This payment was made according to the rules of the art"

"In this case, neither Michel nor I have anything to reproach ourselves with. We made an oral contract when I became president of Fifa. I said: 'I need you Michel.' He said, 'I'm worth a million.' I told him: 'Go for a million, you will work for me.' In Switzerland, an oral contract is valid. He made an international calendar which we introduced but not applied. He was also a member of the commission for the laws of the game, he accompanied me to the

international board

. He made himself known. Michel said to me: 'I am still with you but I can no longer work for you.' So we stopped. During the period he was working, we made him an employment contract. But then we forgot, I forgot him too.

But at some point, when he saw that Fifa employees were asking him for money, he phoned the finance manager in 2010. So he was asked to send a letter. So he sent a letter saying he was two million short of the four years he worked. It arrived at my house, I saw this invoice and it was passed on for payment. Normally as salary. Congress accepted this payment. We can't go back on that… Nobody intervened. This payment was made according to the rules. The investigation was carried out in a very directed way and the witnesses that Michel Platini made available were not listened to. No one listened. I don't know how I could have kept getting up if what I was being blamed for was right."

On their eviction: "Putting Platini out was mean"

"Why did this payment suddenly come into the hands of the Swiss prosecutor, who then opened an investigation? Because when it happened there was already the fight for the presidency of Fifa. When he says that the Switzerland fired him, it's true. Then Switzerland fired me, even worse than him. Switzerland nailed me to the pillory. He's right... And I'm in the same boat. People should be put who played a role in this in a special prison... But if we analyze this situation, why kick me out? It's useless. It's not me who wanted to represent Fifa. It was wickedness. Whoever wanted to put Platini out, is the one who wanted to take his place. Gianni Infantino was in the maneuver.

Finally we would have had a footballer president!

He would have made Fifa a whole around the game, less politics.

I think it would have been nice.

He would have respected his predecessor.

We have very few relations, we saw each other once in court at the entrance, we greeted each other but we don't have a hooked atom.

In his book, he said it was not at all true what I said about that dinner (at the Elysée) and he said a couple of mean things about me.

But I don't blame him."

On the Ballon d'Or: 'We could have given Messi a consolation prize'

"The Ballon d'Or France Football is no longer the Ballon d'Or of Fifa. Fifa gave up the Ballon d'Or too easily. We had made a contract for the ball to be presented to Zurich, to FIFA, as long as we want. They saw that it had another international resonance together. But Infantino, when he arrived, wanted to do it in London. So, it was screwed up right away… The Ballon d "Gold is gone. We could have given Messi a consolation prize. Benzema would have deserved the Ballon d'Or."

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