Blatter relaxed, recovering and 'still president,' says confidant

Criminal Case Against Sepp Blatter
Criminal Case Against Sepp Blatter

ZURICH, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter, his world soccer federation mired in a corruption crisis, is recovering in hospital after a health scare but should be discharged soon, a confidant said on Wednesday.

Klaus Stoehlke told Reuters by telephone the 79-year-old, who was last month suspended for 90 days by the Ethics Committee of soccer's governing body, still considers himself FIFA president - a position he was first elected to in 1998.

"I think his personal condition is fine, he will relax for a few days more, and then I think perhaps over the weekend, or on Monday, (he will leave hospital)," he said.

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"When I phoned him in the hospital this morning, he we had a nice chat...he seemed relaxed, he said his brain and heart are working."

Blatter has been in hospital since Friday when his U.S. based lawyer Richard Cullen issued a statement saying that the Swiss national had been admitted for a checkup.

Stoehlke said Blatter had felt faint at an event in his native canton of Valais and "felt that his body was not working as it should be."

He had received "many visitors, but I am not allowed to give names because it is also highly political," Stoehlke said.

"He said to me: 'I'm the elected president of FIFA, the Congress with its 209 member associations elected me for president and no Ethics Committee can change that.'"

Under the terms of the suspension, Blatter is not allowed into the FIFA headquarters or any football stadium in an official capacity.

See photos of Blatter:

FIFA has been in turmoil since 14 soccer officials and sports marketing executives, including two FIFA vice-presidents, were indicted by the United States in May.

Blatter won a fifth mandate in May just after the corruption scandal erupted with police raids on a hotel used by top FIFA officials. Four days later, as pressure mounted, he called a new Congress, in Zurich in February, to choose his successor.

In September, the Swiss attorney general's office initiated criminal proceedings against Blatter over a 2 million Swiss franc ($2.1 million) payment from FIFA to UEFA president Michel Platini.

Both men have denied any wrongdoing. Blatter has said he still hopes to take part in the Congress in February and Platini still intends to be a candidate in the presidential election. (Reporting by Brian Homewood in Berne; editing by Ralph Boulton)

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