Blatter says Platini could make comeback

Blatter says Platini could make comeback
Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter gestures as he gives an interview to news agencies on in Zurich on Friday. (AFP)
Updated 21 April 2017

Blatter says Platini could make comeback

Blatter says Platini could make comeback

ZURICH: Ex-FIFA President Sepp Blatter said Friday that a comeback was possible for his former ally Michel Platini, declining to hit back after the Frenchman savaged him in an interview last month.
Blatter said that Platini’s name may be cleared by “new elements” concerning the infamous two million Swiss franc payment ($2 million, €1.9 million) that triggered both men’s ouster from football.
“I think he should be back and I think it is not all over,” Blatter said, suggesting that former UEFA boss Platini could again take charge of the European confederation, or even FIFA.
Blatter is currently serving a six-year ban from football over the payment he authorized to Platini in 2011. Platini’s suspension was cut to four years on appeal.
The pair are united in claiming the transaction was legitimate, but bitter words have been swapped since details of the payment emerged in September 2015.
Blatter says he met with US Department of Justice officials and is not a suspect in their investigation of corruption linked to FIFA.
“I was never a person of interest or under scrutiny by the American justice. Never.”
Blatter’s most recent contact “with lawyers from the US Justice Department” was several months ago in Switzerland and was also attended by FIFA legal representatives, he says.
Blatter says: “I have been investigated in two or three matters but it’s no wrongdoing. So the only case which is pending for me is the Swiss case.”
Swiss federal prosecutors have also questioned Blatter, though he says “clarification” in their broader FIFA investigation and not related to a criminal proceedings opened against him in September 2015.
In an interview with French newspaper Le Monde last month, Platini called Blatter “the biggest egoist I’ve ever seen in my life.
“He always said I would be his last scalp,” the former Juventus star said of Blatter.
Platini, 61, claimed there was a campaign to “destroy” him waged by Blatter loyalists inside FIFA.
Blatter on Friday expressed confusion over Platini’s harsh tone.
“If he sees me as an egoist, I accept ... but I helped him become president of UEFA in 2007 and we had good relations, so I don’t understand his attitude. Saying I wanted to harm him doesn’t hold up,” Blatter, 81, told AFP.
Both claim the payment was compensation for consulting work Platini did for FIFA between 1998 and 2002.
There has been media speculation that Blatter approved the money a decade later to buy Platini’s support for his reelection as FIFA president.
There have also been suggestions that Marco Villiger, a close associate of Blatter and a FIFA legal director, leaked details of the controversial payment to Swiss prosecutors, who have ongoing criminal probe into the case.
Separately, Blatter took a jibe at the signature achievement of his successor Gianni Infantino, branding the new FIFA president’s 48-team World Cup a dangerous move.
Infantino eagerly wanted to expand the cash-cow tournament beyond its current 32-team format, and has secured support from FIFA’s powerful Council for a larger competition in 2026.
The council has endorsed a format of 16 groups, each with three teams.
“To play in groups by three is not recommendable,” Blatter said. “One team is always a spectator.”
When a nation has no chance of moving on, “arrangements… could be done,” Blatter continued.
Blatter’s FIFA tenure ended in spectacular disgrace, after US prosecutors opened corruption probes against dozens of his top allies in world football.
He remains the target of an investigation in his native Switzerland over criminal mismanagement.


Robert Saleh becomes first Muslim head coach in NFL history

Lebanese-American Robert Saleh served as a defensive assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Seattle Seahawks and the Houston Texans before his head coach role at the New York Jets. (AFP/File Photo)
Lebanese-American Robert Saleh served as a defensive assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Seattle Seahawks and the Houston Texans before his head coach role at the New York Jets. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 15 January 2021

Robert Saleh becomes first Muslim head coach in NFL history

Lebanese-American Robert Saleh served as a defensive assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Seattle Seahawks and the Houston Texans before his head coach role at the New York Jets. (AFP/File Photo)
  • Saleh, who has been defensive coordinator at the San Francisco 49ers since 2017, will replace Adam Gase
  • Will be the third Arab-American head coach in the NFL

LONDON: The New York Jets said Friday they were appointing Robert Saleh as their head coach, making him the first Muslim to lead a team in the National Football League (NFL).

Saleh, who has been defensive coordinator at the San Francisco 49ers since 2017, will replace Adam Gase, who was fired at the end of a disappointing 2020 regular season.

“Saleh will become the Jets’ 20th head coach in franchise history and their 18th coach appointed to take Green and White reins before the start of a new season,” the Jets posted on their website.

He beat other candidates for the job, including the Tennessee Titans’ assistant coach Arthur Smith, and was wanted by at least six other franchises including Super Bowl LII champions the Philadelphia Eagles, the Detroit Lions and the Los Angeles Chargers, according to ESPN.

Before his stint in San Francisco, Lebanese-American Saleh served as a defensive assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Seattle Seahawks and the Houston Texans.

He will be the third Arab-American head coach in the NFL after Abe Gibron, who is also Lebanese-American, and Rich Kotite, but he will be the first Muslim, according to a statement from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

His no-nonsense approach to defensive play made him a popular figure with his players and 49er fans.

“He makes sure there’s no grey area in terms of coaching and teaching,” San Francisco linebacker Fred Warner said last month. “There’s a lot of coaches out there who just coach. But he’s a great teacher.”

Another of his former players, Richard Sherman, congratulated him on the appointment. He tweeted: “The @nyjets got a great one! Congrats to them!”

His appointment was also welcomed by the Muslim civil rights body, the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

He will have a tough task at the Jets, turning around the fortunes of a team that has failed to make the playoffs since the 2010 season, currently the NFL’s longest active postseason drought.

With quarterback Sam Darnold failing to hit the heights he promised after being picked No. 3 in the 2018 draft, Saleh’s first job will be to find a solid option in that position if he is to bring success to East Rutherford for the first time since 1968.