FIFA must defend itself against US, like Swiss banks did – Blatter aide

Reuters / Michael Buholzer
FIFA needs to defend itself from an attack by the Americans, believes Klaus Stöhlker, personal consultant to the organization’s acting president, Sepp Blatter.

Stöhlker spoke to RT a day ahead of the big media conference the Swiss prosecutors are giving on June 17 in connection to the ongoing corruption investigation in FIFA.

RT:What do you expect to hear tomorrow?

Klaus Stöhlker: I’m not expecting great surprises, because it was FIFA’s president Sepp Blatter who opened the possibility to develop all these questions, which will be answered tomorrow morning, and I feel quite sure there will be no major negative surprises. I have to wait a little bit, like you. I think I know Mr. Lauber who was heading this process and he’s a very serious man, and I’m sure he will give his best to find out what really happened in these cases. But, frankly speaking, I don’t fear great negative surprises. Even no surprises, I can tell you. For everybody knows that the two games in Moscow and in Qatar were well prepared. And all these kinds of accusations, I think they will just go away like nothing, so you will be very much surprised what you hear tomorrow morning.

RT:How big will the fallout from the announcements be?

KS: Oh then we know, if really Moscow is losing, but I don’t expect this, then the English are waiting to step in with London. And if the Qatari will lose, but I don’t expect that, there are many countries that want to step in, but it’s still seven years to prepare, but I don’t expect this, neither Moscow, nor Qatar.

RT:Do you believe that such an unprecedented move as canceling Russia's or Qatar's right to host the World Cup may be realized? Is there behind-the-scenes fighting happening over the World Cup tournaments right now?

KS: Oh, yes! That’s a very good question. I’m deeply convinced that there is a big game now going on. Many people in the world are expecting FIFA [acting] President Blatter will step down soon. No! He is acting president for the next 8 to 10 months, at least. And now three groups are expecting to win more power, these are: the Americans, with the help of the English, these are the Europeans with Michel Platini, but without the Russians, and the third group are the Africans, the Asians, and the Arabs. They all want to have more influence, they want to tap into the golden pockets of the FIFA organization, which has a budget for the next seven years of close to 10 billion euros.

RT:Do you believe Blatter could keep his post, despite his resignation?

KS: You see, that’s the old game. Some people think the old lion, Sepp Blatter, will not fight back, and so the young lions are fighting for FIFA. FIFA is a world-class organization where billions are moved, where 1.6 billion fans are around the world, or even more, where 300 million players are. It’s a huge thing, and everybody wants to take part of this huge organization. And this fight will go ahead, I think, for the next 12 months, at least.

There is only one group of people who can decide about this unprecedented move: that’s the congress. That means the members of 209 countries. They are the democratic basis of FIFA, and this congress exists, and this congress will vote about the future of Mr. Sepp Blatter, its acting president, or a competitor we have not seen until now.

You see the wonderful building headquarters of FIFA in Zurich is called “Home of FIFA,” the dream of Sepp Blatter, who created that large multinational corporation, he created it 40 years ago. And this man created “Home of FIFA.” like a family, or the father of a family, and he wants to hold the family together; he wants to advance the family. That’s why tonight, tonight he’s finishing a paper called “New FIFA” and I’m sure he will give a message soon.

Klaus Stöhlker

RT:Are individual members, particularly the US, using leverage against FIFA with the corruption scandal?

KS: Oh sure! That’s political pressure finally. We in Switzerland, we are used to have the Americans inside our doors. That’s not only with the banks; that also happens now with FIFA. So the Americans step inside our doors, and now we have to fight to defend, like the banks defended themselves, we have to defend FIFA. And there are really tremendous discussions, not only in Europe, but also in the US, if what the Americans did in the last weeks and months is really correct. That discussion is also going on in the US.

RT:Do you believe there's a valid candidate to replace Blatter?

KS: At this moment, at this moment I think there is no valid candidate, and you can’t give FIFA into the hands of a lawyer, or a Tony Blair, or a Bill Clinton, or a Gerhard Schröder from Germany. I think at the top of FIFA you need a professional, who knows football; who’s a diplomat on the highest level; who’s able to organize a huge organization, and who is speaking five to six languages quite fluent. So, you can help us to find that man. He’s not visible until now.

RT:Please describe your personal relationship with FIFA.

KS: I know Sepp Blatter personally quite some years. Here in Switzerland, it’s all so small in certain circles you just meet, always meet. But in January, President Blatter asked me to help him with his re-election now, and that was a successful re-election. So he entrusted it to me, against many-many other people who wanted to have the same job, but I think we did it the right way.

RT:Do you believe Russia and Qatar will be able to host the World Cup tournaments properly despite the pressure?

KS: FIFA this year is very stable very successful. All the actions FIFA is realizing are successful and they’re going on. Now there’s a big challenge of Moscow 2018 that’s just before us, and now we have a war between the US and Russia, between the Americans and Putin. And now it’s very difficult, as you know, to prepare these games in a situation like this one. So it’s a challenge where you need a tough diplomat.

As we know best, Russian President Putin trusts Blatter. The Americans, who don’t understand anything of football, they don’t trust Blatter so much. They trust only themselves. And so Sepp Blatter has to find a balance between the interests of the Anglo-Saxons and the rest of the world. That’s now one thing.

The second thing is Qatar. Qatar, I think, they have made progress. They invested a lot, also in labor relations in Qatar. These are very-very clever people and I’m sure we will have excellent games in 2022 in Qatar.

RT:Do you believe Russia has earned the right to host the World Cup?

KS: Oh sure! Russia is a wonderful country and I know the history of Russia and all the difficulties, so Joseph [Sepp] Blatter and the members of FIFA, they believe in Russia. That’s why they gave the games to Russia. And I’m sure Vladimir Putin and his whole team will invest a lot, even in these difficult times they have now, to have wonderful games there. So President Blatter said it absolutely perfectly, we will have excellent games in Russia and I hope all will be with us. But, you see, if the Americans are blockading Russia; that will be tough. And so that’s why I said: it’s war.

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