FIFA president Sepp Blatter says he won't resign in light of criminal probe

Sepp Blatter has said he will remain as president of FIFA, reiterating that "he had done nothing illegal or improper," after criminal proceedings were opened against him last Friday by the Swiss attorney general.

Blatter, who is due to step down in February, addressed FIFA staff on Monday, three days after being interrogated by Swiss investigators at the scandal-battered governing body's headquarters.

The president spoke alongside FIFA directors at a staff meeting, which was characterised as a regular gathering that takes place at least once a month rather than being the stage for a sudden announcement.

His U.S.-based lawyer, Richard Cullen, released a statement shortly after the meeting that said the 2 million Swiss francs (about $2 million) payment Blatter made to UEFA president Michel Platini for work done more than nine years previously was legitimate..

"President Blatter spoke to FIFA staff today and informed the staff that he was cooperating with the authorities, reiterated that he had done nothing illegal or improper and stated that he would remain as president of FIFA," the statement said.

"On the Platini matter, President Blatter on Friday shared with the Swiss authorities the fact that Mr. Platini had a valuable employment relationship with FIFA serving as an adviser to the president beginning in 1998. He explained to the prosecutors that the payments were valid compensation and nothing more and were properly accounted for within FIFA including the withholding of Social Security contributions.

"Because of the continuing investigation, President Blatter will answer no further questions at this time."

The announcement comes as Blatter awaits a possible announcement from the FIFA ethics committee on whether he will be suspended as a result of the Swiss investigation into possible criminal mismanagement and misappropriation of FIFA money.

Blatter was questioned by Swiss investigators on Friday about why FIFA paid Platini in 2011 for work supposedly carried out at least nine years earlier. Blatter denied wrongdoing and Platini was only questioned as a witness.

But the 79-year-old Blatter was back in his office that was raided on Friday, attempting to continue running FIFA while embroiled in a criminal investigation.

Blatter has said he will hand over power in February when an emergency election is held, triggered by the president's resignation statement four days after being re-elected for a fifth four-year term in May.

Meanwhile, Platini said on Monday that the investigation could hurt his reputation, but he insisted the income was fully declared to Swiss authorities.

Platini, who hopes to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA president in the February election, didn't address his candidacy and did not explain why the payment was made nine years later.

In a letter sent to the 54 UEFA associations, he said: "I'm aware these events may harm my image and reputation ... and I wish to use all energies to ensure that any issues or misunderstandings can be resolved as soon as possible."

Platini also disclosed he has written to FIFA's ethics committee asking that he can clarify the payment with them.

The Scottish Football Association wants answers about why it Platini was paid so long after the work was carried out.

"It is an essential piece of information that still needs to be provided,'' SFA chief executive Stewart Regan responded to the letter via Twitter.

Scotland were one of the first UEFA members in July to publicly endorse Platini's bid for the FIFA presidency. Oct. 26 is the deadline for candidates, who must pass integrity checks.

Blatter is also suspected of awarding undervalued World Cup broadcasting rights to former vice president Jack Warner in 2005.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.