Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, the former global and European football heads, are set to trial on Wednesday for an alleged fraudulent payment that rocked the sport and ended their reign.
Following a six-year investigation that started in 2015, former FIFA president Blatter, 86, and Platini, 66, will begin a two-week trial at Switzerland’s Federal Criminal Court in the southern city of Bellinzona.
The two are on trial for a payment of two million Swiss francs ($2.08 million) to Platini, who was then the president of UEFA, the governing body of European football.
They are accused of fraudulently obtaining the payment of 229,126 francs, plus social security payments, in favour of Platini, to the prejudice of FIFA.
According to the court, the former French football star “sent to FIFA in 2011 an allegedly false invoice for a (claimed) debt still outstanding for his participation as a FIFA consultant in the years 1998 to 2002.”
Both suspects are charged with fraud and document falsification. Blatter is charged with misappropriation and criminal mismanagement, while Platini is charged with conspiracy.
The Attorney General’s Office of Switzerland filed the indictment (OAG).
The trial will end on June 22, and the three judges’ judgement will be delivered on July 8.
The defendants might be sentenced to up to five years in jail or fined.
FIFA and UEFA are based in Switzerland, with headquarters in Zurich and Nyon, respectively.
Platini and former Swiss football executive Blatter were both banned from the sport when Platini seemed to be the best candidate to replace Blatter as president of FIFA.
Platini was anxious to take over, and Blatter’s reign was cut short by a separate FIFA corruption scandal probed by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2015.
The defence and the prosecution agree on one fact in the Bellinzona trial: Platini was Blatter’s advisor from 1998 to 2002. In 1999, they agreed to a deal for 300,000 francs per year.
The OAG said, “The remuneration agreed upon in line with this contract was invoiced by Platini on each occasion and paid in full by FIFA.”
The former France captain “demanded a two million franc payment” more than eight years after his advising duty ended, according to the OAG.
“FIFA paid a payment to Platini in the amount stated at the beginning of 2011 with Blatter’s assistance. The OAG’s investigation revealed that the payment to Platini was made without legal authority. This payment harmed FIFA’s assets while enriching Platini illegally. “According to the federal prosecutors,
The guys claim that they had verbally agreed to a one-million-franc yearly remuneration.
“It is an unpaid pay owing by FIFA, paid under an oral contract and the strictest of legal circumstances. There’s nothing else! I operated with the greatest honesty, as I have throughout my life and career. “In a statement to AFP, Platini stated.
As a civil party, FIFA wants the money paid in 2011 “returned to the only purpose for which it was intended: football,” according to its lawyer Catherine Hohl-Chirazi.
Winner of the Ballon d’Or
Joseph “Sepp” Blatter joined FIFA in 1975, rose through the ranks to become a general secretary in 1981, and then president of the governing organization of international football in 1998.
In 2015, he was forced to resign and was banned by FIFA for eight years, eventually reduced to six, for violating FIFA’s ethics code by authorizing a payment to Platini that was reportedly done in his interests rather than FIFA’s.
Platini is recognized as one of the finest players in football history. In 1983, 1984, and 1985, he won the Ballon d’Or, the most coveted individual award, three times.
Platini is the only player to have won more Ballons d’Or than Lionel Messi (seven) and Cristiano Ronaldo (five).
From January 2007 until December 2015, Platini served as UEFA president.
Platini’s eight-year punishment was reduced to four years when he filed an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport.