Former FIFA chief Sepp Blatter, UEFA president Michel Platini accused of fraud in Switzerland

Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and former UEFA president Michel Platini have been charged with fraud for illegally arranging a payment of 2 million Swiss francs ($ 2.94 million), according to the Swiss Public Prosecutor’s Office (OAG).

The two men were indicted after a six-year investigation into the payment that Blatter approved from world football governing body FIFA to Mr Platini in 2011.

Sir. Mr Blatter and Mr Platini said the payment was for withheld pay.

“This payment damaged FIFA’s assets and illegally enriched Platini,” said the Swiss OAG.

The Swiss investigation was launched in 2015 in the middle of a series of scandals that engulfed FIFA. The affair led to a FIFA ethical inquiry, after which both men were excluded from the game and forced to leave their positions.

The OAG accused Mr Blatter and Mr Platini of “fraud,, in the alternative, wrongful appropriation, more alternatively criminal misconduct and forgery of a document.”

Sir. Platini, who captained France to victory in the European Championships in 1984, was also charged as an accomplice.

Blatter, 85, and Mr Platini were both excluded from football for six years in 2016 because of the payment made with Mr Blatter’s approval for work done a decade earlier. Both have denied any wrongdoing.

“I look forward to the trial of the Federal Criminal Court with optimism, and I hope that this story will come to an end and that all the facts will be dealt with properly,” Blatter said in a statement.

Platini criticizes ‘unfair accusations’

Michel Platini, wearing a suit, touches his forehead and bends his head slightly.
Former UEFA boss Michel Platini also denies any wrongdoing.(AP: Lionel Cironneau)

Sir. Platini said he had only heard the news of the trial through media reports.

“These methods are an extension of the prosecutor’s relentlessness to imply myself unnecessarily in a case where all my good faith has been recognized. I fully challenge these unfounded and unjust accusations,” he said.

Sir. Platini’s lawyer Dominic Nellen said he was convinced the former France and Juventus midfielder would prove his innocence.

“From the defense’s point of view, it is clear that the investigation should have been stopped long ago. There are enough witness reports and documents in the case files that prove my client’s innocence,” he says.

Charges continue to relate to demand for payment

The OAG said their investigation revealed that Mr Platini worked as a consultant for then-FIFA President Mr Blatter between 1998-2002 and that an annual compensation of 300,000 Swiss francs had been agreed in a written contract.

The OAG said Mr Platini had sent an invoice and had been paid in full, but the 66-year-old former French international continued to demand payment.

“Over eight years after the cessation of its advisory activity, Platini demanded a payment of 2 million Swiss francs,” said OAG.

“With Blatter’s involvement, FIFA made a payment to Platini in the amount mentioned in early 2011. The evidence gathered by OAG has confirmed that this payment to Platini was made without a legal basis.”

Blatter said the payment had been delayed because FIFA was unable to pay the full amount and that Platini did not make its claim for the money until 2010.

The former FIFA president said the payments had been approved by “all responsible FIFA bodies” and that Mr Platini had paid tax on the amount “at his Swiss residence”.

AP

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