Sepp Blatter and Michelle PlatiniThe world and European football leaders were once cleared on Friday of a suspected fraudulent payment that shook the game and put their time on the line. The Swiss federal criminal court in the southern city of Belenzona acquitted the couple in a lawsuit that began in 2015 and lasted six years.
Former FIFA presidents Blatter, 86, and Platini, 67, listened in silence as the clerk read out the verdict, which rejected the prosecution’s request for a one-year, eight-month suspended sentence.
Platini’s lawyer, Dominique Nellen, said: “An impartial court has finally found that no crime has been committed in this case. My client has been completely acquitted and has been relieved.”
The former French football great Platini issued a brief statement claiming to have “won the first round”, while pointing to alleged political and judicial manipulation to remove him from power.
“In this case, there are criminals who did not appear during the trial. Let them trust me: we will find each other,” he said.
Platini served as Blatter’s adviser between 1998 and 2002.
Mr Blatter told the court that when he took over as FIFA president in 1998, the governing body of world football had a poor record and that he believed someone who had been at the forefront of the game could help.
He turned to Platini for advice, including political visits, reforms to the international calendar, and financial support from national federations.
He signed an agreement in 1999 for an annual compensation of 300,000 Swiss francs, which was paid in full by FIFA.
But in 2011 the couple was offered more than 2 million Swiss francs ($ 2.05 million) to pay Platini, then in charge of European football’s governing body UEFA.
Former world football chief Blatter told the court that the couple had entered into a “gentleman’s agreement” to pay Platini one million Swiss francs a year.
Platini jokingly demanded a million dollars from Blatter without elaborating on the currency, and the then-president of FIFA agreed to pay “later” with a portion of the money – the agreement he had signed. Agreed to.
The rest will be settled if FIFA’s weak finances allow it, Blatter said, adding that an agreement had been reached orally and without witnesses.
Platini was accused of submitting an allegedly fictitious invoice to FIFA in 2011 claiming that he was outstanding for his consulting work.
Both were charged with fraud and forgery of documents. Blatter was charged with aggravated robbery and criminal misconduct, while Platini was charged with aggravated robbery.
Blatter and Platini maintained their innocence during their trial, which lasted from June 8 to 22.
But the court noted that the fraud was not “established with the possibility of a boundary of certainty”, and therefore applied the general principle of criminal law that “the suspect should benefit from the suspicion.”
The indictment was filed by the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland.
Both FIFA and UEFA are headquartered in Zurich and Nyon, Switzerland, respectively.
Platini and Blatter were banned from the game at a time when former players were looking to replace Blatter as head of football’s world governing body.
The two allies became rivals as Platini became desperate to seize power, while Blatter’s term ended sharply with the 2015 FIFA corruption scandal investigated by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. ۔
Joseph “Sepp” Blatter joined FIFA in 1975, became its general secretary in 1981 and president of the governing body of world football in 1998.
He was forced to resign in 2015 and was banned by FIFA for eight years, later reduced to six, allowing Platini to pay for violations Gone, which was allegedly done in its own interests rather than FIFA’s.
Platini is considered one of the greatest players in world football. He won the Ballon d’Or, considered the most prestigious individual award, three times – in 1983, 1984 and 1985.
Platini was president of UEFA from January 2007 to December 2015.
He appealed his first eight-year suspension to the Arbitration Court of Sport, which reduced it to four years.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)
Topics covered in this article