Swiss Federal Criminal Court on Friday acquitted former FIFA president Joseph Blatter and former UEFA president Michel Platini in a FIFA fraud trial.
The two men were indicted in 2021 following a six-year investigation into the payment that Blatter authorised to be paid from world football’s governing body FIFA to Platini in 2011. Blatter and Platini said the payment was for backdated salary, Daily Mail reports
“This payment damaged FIFA’s assets and unlawfully enriched Platini,” Switzerland’s OAG said.
They were charged by federal prosecutors in Switzerland with defrauding FIFA in connection with a payment of two million Swiss francs (2.07 million dollars) Platini received.
The Frenchman had received the money from FIFA in 2011 for work done as a consultant between 1998 and 2002.
The OAG accused Blatter and Platini of “fraud, in the alternative of misappropriation, in the further alternative of criminal mismanagement as well as of forgery of a document”. Platini, a football great who captained France to victory in the 1984 European Championship, was also charged as an accomplice.
The prosecution had wanted a suspended sentence of one year and eight months for both men.
Platini was also to be fined some 2.2 million Swiss francs, the original payment plus social security taxes FIFA also paid.
Blatter and Platini had protested their innocence, with FIFA not in a financial position at the time to fully pay the Frenchman Platini who for his part spoke of a fabricated case.
Blatter, who had said the two had a verbal agreement for the payment, said shortly ahead of the verdict he expected to be found not guilty.
“I expect nothing else but an acquittal. I am not innocent in my life but I am innocent in this case,” he said before entering the Bellinzona court house.
Platini had spoken of a politically-motivated case which ended his ambition to take over from Blatter as FIFA president, a position now held by former UEFA secretary general Gianni Infantino.
Both men were banned from football by the FIFA ethics committee, and their careers were over even though the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) later reduced the bans.
Platini, 67, said in a statement distributed by his lawyer said “my fight is a fight against injustice. I have won a first game.”
“The truth has come to light in this trial,” he said, vowing “we will meet again”.
saharareporters, new york