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Joseph 'Sepp' Blatter Fifa.jpg
Photograph: EPA/PATRICK B. KRAEMER

Joseph Blatter believes he remains technically president of FIFA despite having been suspended from all activities related to football and replaced by the international football organization's ethics committee in December.

"From a legal point of view I continue being the president of FIFA, because the congress never revoked my mandate," Blatter said in an extensive interview published Monday by Argentina's La Nacion newspaper.

In December, Blatter was suspended for eight years from all activities related to football. The sanction by FIFA's ethics commission was later reduced to six years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

"It's more than symbolic!" Blatter said. "Because the statutes say that to vote for a new president you have to revoke the mandate of the previous one. I haven't said it until now because I don't want to make a scene."

Blatter, who was president of the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) for 17 years, said that he did not plan to assert his legal argument.

"It's already happened; that's the past," he said. "It is only my small personal compensation, knowing that they did not revoke my mandate."

The former world football boss admitted that he should have left office early.

"I should have resigned after the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. But then [Michel] Platini came and said he would not be a candidate, and everyone in FIFA asked me to stay," he said.

In a recent interview with dpa, Blatter, who is Swiss, rejected the corruption allegations against him.

"Blatter is not corrupt. They tried to find something on me, but they didn't find anything that was in violation of Swiss law," he told La Nacion.

He said he did not violate Swiss law "or any criminal laws."

In another section of the interview, Blatter said that the draw for FIFA tournaments "was clean to the last detail."

"I never touched the balls, something which other people did do. Of course, they can be marked, heating them or cooling them," said Blatter, apparently hinting at UEFA.

"Of course it is technically possible. They never took place in FIFA, but I was a witness to draws at the European level in which that happened. But never in FIFA. Of course it can be done, but in my case, it never happened - never."

Asked how the alleged draw-fixing procedure worked, Blatter said, "the balls are placed in front of a refrigerator. Merely touching them is enough to tell the difference between the cold ones and the warm ones. One knows what one has by touch."

Blatter spoke about Lionel Messi, and recalled the feelings of the Argentine superstar when he received the trophy for best player at the World Cup in Brazil, after losing the final to Germany.

"Messi was talking to himself. He told himself over and over again, 'the best, but not the champion,'" Blatter recalled.

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