Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter at a news conference in Morocco.
Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter at a news conference in Morocco. Christophe Ena

Socceroos 'like a rugby team', says disgraced ex-FIFA boss

FORMER FIFA president Sepp Blatter has launched a bizarre attack on Australia's men's national football team, describing the Socceroos as "overweight" and resembling a rugby team.

The disgraced Blatter, banned from all football activities for six years in 2016 by FIFA's Ethics Committee, made the comments during an interview with popular Swedish newspaper Expressen.

The 81-year-old said he had watched Australia play at the recent Confederations Cup held in Russia on television and was struck by the size of the Socceroos.

"They looked like a rugby team," Blatter was quoted as saying. "Some of their players were overweight. They need to work out more. They need to run more."

Australia failed to win a match at the Confederations Cup, losing 3-2 to Germany and drawing 1-1 with Cameroon and Chile.

Blatter's unprovoked burn on Ange Postecoglou's national team appeared to be a random postscript to comments about women's sport where he described football as a game "anyone can play".

"In some countries, Muslim countries for example, women don't have the same civil rights as in the Western world," Blatter said.

"So, football is good for the women. Women want to play team sports as well. What is there to choose from? Basketball, volleyball and handball. Handball is too athletic. Basketball and volleyball? If you aren't tall, you shouldn't play. Short, tall, thin and broad: anyone can play football.


Australian players line up for the team photo during an international friendly between Australia and Brazil, at the MCG in Melbourne, Tuesday, June 13, 2017.(AAP Image/Joe Castro) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Australian players before the international friendly against Brazil at the MCG in June. JOE CASTRO

"In men's sport it's different, because the athletes are so big. Like in the Australian national team."

The interview took place over lunch at the Sonnenberg restaurant, a favourite haunt of the former FIFA boss, which overlooks the city of Zurich, where the FIFA headquarters are located.

Blatter - who continues to boast of his supposed prowess as a centre forward in his younger playing days - suffered a nervous breakdown in 2015 and was admitted to hospital after being implicated in an investigation by Swiss authorities into financial misconduct at FIFA.

Swiss prosecutors said Blatter was suspected of signing a contract that was "unfavourable to FIFA" and made what was described as a "disloyal payment" to then UEFA president Michel Platini. Blatter and Platini were subsequently banned by FIFA.

The Swiss investigation into FIFA and Blatter remains ongoing and is also looking at aspects of Australia's bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The US Department of Justice's investigation into FIFA is understood to also still be active.

"I'm helping the Swiss authorities to find out some stuff that concerns a few ... international problems," Blatter revealed to Expressen. "Problems that are coming out now, with these famous World Cups ... I am a person with information. I answer because I want the truth to come out."

Blatter said Platini, a star player but disgraced administrator, now spends his time playing golf.

"I would guess his handicap is about three or four by now," Blatter said. "I haven't seen him for quite some time."

Blatter also revealed he'd not spoken with current FIFA president Gianni Infantino recently either.

"The last time I reached out to him, his lawyers came back," Blatter said.