Suspended Sepp Blatter admitted his sadness at the nature of his departure from his job as FIFA president during a French radio interview on Thursday, saying he has been left defenceless.

“The departure that is being prepared for me is so sad. There are situations against which one has no way of defending oneself, and all of a sudden, you are left with no friends,” Blatter told radio station RMC as he defended his achievements at the head of world football’s governing body since 1998 and in two decades with the organisation before that.

“In the last 40 years at FIFA we have developed football. It has never been as good as it is now. You only need to cast a glance at the Champions League to see the quality of the football,” he said.

Blatter, who was handed an eight-year ban from all footballing activities along with UEFA president Michel Platini for ethics violations, had an appeal against his punishment heard earlier this week.

The pair were found to have abused their positions over a mysterious 2 million Swiss franc ($2 million, 1.8 million euros) payment made in 2011. A decision on the appeal is expected next week. 

Speaking to RMC, the 79-year-old Swiss insisted he “felt more at ease with the (appeals) committee than in front of the ethics committee.”

Blatter, who turns 80 next month, had already announced he would be stepping down as FIFA president — the election to name his replacement takes place on February 26 — just days after his re-election for a fifth term in late May.

He refused to name a favourite for his succession, saying: “I can’t choose someone. It is not for me to intervene.”

He added that four of the five candidates had spoken to him and that several national federations had contacted him asking who they should vote for.

“I said to them: ‘Vote for whoever you wish, for who you think is the best for FIFA in your soul and in your confidence.'”  – Agence France-Presse

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