At one minute past six on Friday evening in Zurich, Sepp Blatter had a glass of white wine and exhaled deeply.
FIFA had finally elected a new president and Blatter was relieved of the title after almost 18 years.
“It is a relief. I had this burden on me,” he told The Associated Press yesterday, seeming at peace and enjoying his first day out of FIFA’s employment since 1975.
“It was even a welcome day yesterday, 18:01, when they had a new president,” Blatter said in the European style.
Blatter was unable to hand over power in person to Gianni Infantino, 35 years younger and a fellow native of the rural Valais canton in Switzerland.
Banned from duty since October by FIFA’s ethics committee, Blatter was barred from attending the election hall across the city from his daughter’s apartment. There, they watched the tense event unfold on television.
“Being suspended or not, I was still the elected president. And now it is finished,” Blatter said, in an interview at the Sonnenberg restaurant attached to the former FIFA headquarters that the scandal-rocked soccer body still owns.
When the moment came that his beloved presidency ended, Blatter said he was with his daughter, Corinne, sharing a bottle of white from his home region.
She is at her father’s side also yesterday morning for two interviews, first, with a Swiss Sunday newspaper then the AP. There are just bottles of still and sparkling water on the table in a private dining room before they will take lunch at a restaurant that has become a Blatter salon in recent weeks.
The election was hailed as a potential new dawn for FIFA after nine months of turmoil since American and Swiss federal prosecutors revealed the scope of their investigations into corruption, which forced Blatter out with three years left in his fifth presidential term.
On the day after, there are clear blue skies but the crisply cold air on a hill overlooking Zurich left the 79-year-old Blatter feeling chill during several minutes spent outside with the newspaper photographer.