Sepp Blatter considers staying at FIFA past February, says ex-adviser

Sepp Blatter, who is due to step down as FIFA president in February, has not ruled out staying on beyond scheduled elections, despite facing a criminal investigation and a potential internal ethics probe, a source close to FIFA told Reuters on Tuesday.

The scenario where Blatter would try to stay on stems from comments made by Blatter's former public relations adviser Klaus Stoehlker and offers insight into the embattled FIFA president's thinking.

Stoehlker said the 79-year-old has said nothing formally at this stage.

"About 10 days ago he gave an in-house conference at FIFA and he said to everyone there, 'we don't know what will happen on February 26 but when there will be no candidate elected, I [will] feel obligated to stay,'" Stoehlker told Reuters.

Stoehlker said he had spoken to Blatter several times in recent days and found him very calm.

Blatter said on Monday that 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's office (OAG).

"Sepp Blatter is not nervous, he is not limited in his analysis, he is fully relaxed. He is leading FIFA until this moment, then he will see if there is a candidate who is able to step into his shoes," Stoehlker said.

Stoehlker said Blatter would not put himself forward as a candidate before the Oct. 26 deadline for nominations.

"No he is not a candidate because the president is the president. The question is only ... that [if] there is no other candidate who is able to win, so he has to go on."

OAG said on Friday that Blatter is suspected of making a "disloyal payment" of 2 million Swiss francs ($2.04 million) to Michel Platini.

A 2005 television rights contract which Blatter signed on behalf of FIFA with the Caribbean Football Union is also part of the investigation, the OAG said.

Blatter announced in June, following the indictment of 14 officials and sports marketing executives, that he would "give back his mandate" at a special elective congress on Feb. 26.