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Blatter claims role in trying to remove African president

Thu, 21 Apr 2016

Zurich: Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter claims he was asked by Switzerland's foreign ministry last year to help persuade an African president to leave office.

Blatter offered Burundi president Pierre Nkurunziza an ambassador's role in world soccer as the nation fell into violent turmoil, according to his new book, which was launched on Thursday.

Blatter's intervention was supported by the United States, he claims in "Sepp Blatter: Mission and Passion Football," which was published in German.

After Nkurunziza said last April he wanted an unconstitutional third presidential term, a bloody military coup failed to remove him. Blatter said his offer to Nkurunziza followed an approach by Yves Rossier, the state secretary of the Swiss ministry.

"I proposed to the president, who is a big football fan, in front of witnesses that if it would be an advantage for his country and him, FIFA could deploy him as an ambassador for football in Africa or in the whole world," Blatter is quoted saying in an interview section of the 300-page book.

"Unfortunately, that never happened," Blatter said of the offer, which was rejected.

Nkurunziza then won a disputed election in July and continues to lead his troubled nation.

The Swiss ministry did not immediately confirm Blatter's claim.

Blatter's picture-led book reflects on his 41 years at scandal-hit FIFA, which ended in February. It includes photographs of Blatter with U.S. President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pope Francis.

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