Blatter is 'being unfairly treated'

GENEVA • Swiss lawyer Francois Carrard, appointed by Fifa to carry out reforms in the wake of a corruption scandal, says the federation's chief Sepp Blatter has been "unfairly treated".

"There is something unfair in the way he is treated," Carrard said in an interview published yesterday in the Le Matin Dimanche newspaper.

"I am saying this in a completely independent capacity. He is being pilloried.

"He has indeed made mistakes but he has also made positive contributions... this man is being unfairly treated."

Carrard, 77, was appointed by Fifa on Aug 11 to lead the world football governing body's Reform Committee after the corruption scandal erupted in May.

Then, seven football officials were arrested at a Zurich hotel on the eve of a Fifa Congress.

The seven Fifa officials were among 14 people facing charges in the United States over more than US$150 million (S$211 million) of bribes for marketing and broadcasting contracts.

In parallel, Swiss investigators are looking into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively.

Blatter went on to win a fifth term in office. But under pressure, he suddenly announced that he would stand down. An election for his successor will be held next February.

He denies any wrongdoing and Carrard appeared to back him, telling Le Matin that he had not seen a shred of evidence against his fellow Swiss.

"Since we are talking about corruption... I have the entire American case in my possession and it contains not one single word against him," he said.

"As it stands, I am not aware of the slightest indication of corruption on Blatter's part."

Carrard, who previously was in charge of implementing reforms at the International Olympic Committee in the wake of the bribery scandal-hit Winter Olympics of 2002, is due to present his reform proposals to a Fifa congress meeting on Feb 26.

That is when Blatter will officially stand down.

The Reform Committee he presides over will meet for the first time in Bern on Sept 2-3.

He will also consult sponsors and other parties involved near the end of October.

"Fifa has taken some heavy blows, the organisation is in a deep crisis and I think that all its members are aware that some drastic measures need to be taken," he said.

But he added that it would be "unrealistic" to expect that the problems can be fixed at the drop of a hat.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2015, with the headline 'Blatter is 'being unfairly treated''. Print Edition | Subscribe