Blatter ‘offered job to Burundi leader’

Former Fifa boss Sepp Blatter and Burundi President Pierre NkurunzizaImage copyright

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Sepp Blatter approached Pierre Nkurunziza about a year ago

Fifa ex-president Sepp Blatter says he was asked by the Swiss authorities to offer a job to Burundi’s president.

In a new book, Mr Blatter says he offered Pierre Nkurunziza a role as an ambassador for world football in exchange for the leader standing down, easing the nation’s political crisis.

Mr Nkurunziza declined and won a controversial third term in office.

The Swiss foreign ministry confirmed it sought Mr Blatter’s help but denied seeking Mr Nkurunziza’s resignation.

“The intention was to contribute to a peaceful solution in order to prevent the current crisis in Burundi,” a statement said.

Mr Blatter resigned as boss of football’s world governing body Fifa last year with the organisation mired in corruption allegations.

He has since been given a six-year ban from football by Fifa for ethics violations.

‘Other nations involved’

The approach to Mr Nkurunziza took place about a year ago – shortly after the protests began.

In his book, Mr Blatter is quoted as saying: “I proposed to the president… if it could be an advantage for him or his country, Fifa could deploy him as an ambassador for football in Africa, or the world.”

But Mr Nkurunziza declined the offer and was instead re-elected in a poll boycotted by the main opposition parties, who saw the bid as illegal.

Months of unrest have followed, with more than 400 people killed and tens of thousands fleeing the country.

Mr Nkurunziza’s office told the BBC the Burundian president had been approached by Mr Blatter, and that the then-Fifa chief was being used by powerful Western nations, without naming them.

The Burundian president is a big football fan: he owns his own team, Hallelujah FC, and was photographed having a kick-about during protests over his re-election bid.

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