Tue | Sep 19, 2017

Blatter backs new FIFA boss Infantino

Published:Sunday | February 28, 2016 | 2:00 AM
Infantino

ZURICH (AP):

At one minute past six on Friday evening in Zurich, Sepp Blatter had a glass of white wine and exhaled deeply.

FIFA had finally elected a new president and Blatter was relieved of the title after almost 18 years.

"It is a relief. I had this burden on me," he told The Associated Press yesterday, seeming at peace and enjoying his first day out of FIFA's employment since 1975.

"It was even a welcome day yesterday, 18:01, when they had a new president," Blatter said in the European style for 6:01 p.m.

Blatter was unable to hand over power in person to Gianni Infantino, 35 years younger and a fellow native of the rural Valais canton in Switzerland.

Banned from duty since October by FIFA's ethics committee, Blatter was barred from attending the election hall across the city from his daughter's apartment. There, they watched the tense event unfold on television.

When the moment came that his beloved presidency ended, Blatter said he was with his daughter, Corinne, sharing a bottle of white wine from his home region.

POTENTIAL NEW DAWN

The election was hailed as a potential new dawn for FIFA after nine months of turmoil since American and Swiss federal prosecutors revealed the scope of their investigations into corruption, which forced Blatter out with three years left in his fifth presidential term.

On the day after, there are clear blue skies, but the crisply cold air on a hill overlooking Zurich left the 79-year-old Blatter feeling the chill during several minutes spent outside with the newspaper photographer.

"It was important for FIFA to have a change," said Blatter.

"He is a young man, he is powerful, he has a lot of energy, and I am sure he will do the right job," Blatter said of Infantino, a former lawyer.