Ex-FIFA boss Blatter and alleged heir Platini cleared of wrongdoing in Swiss trial

This content was published on July 8, 2022 – 13:24

(Bloomberg) – Sepp Blatter, the man who led world football’s governing body for 17 years before being ejected amid a scandal, has been acquitted of criminal charges by Switzerland’s highest criminal court.

The former FIFA president and his former heir apparent, Michel Platini, have been found not guilty of fraud, embezzlement and forgery over a payment of 2 million Swiss francs ($2.1 million) to Platini years after quitting working as a consultant for the World Cup host.

Both men said the payment fulfilled a verbal contract between them for services provided by Platini, but was delayed in part because of the dismal state of the football governing body’s finances. Once the most powerful men in football, the two were banned from the sport in December 2015, undermining Platini’s chances of becoming FIFA president.

“The truth has been revealed during this trial and I deeply thank the judges of the court for the independence of their decision,” Platini said in a statement following the decision.

Blatter, 86, argued before trial that the money was “a salary payment which was owed” to Platini and “was properly declared ‘as such’, ‘billed accordingly and approved by all authorities responsible for the Fifa”. His spokesperson did not immediately respond to a message to comment on the verdict.

Platini was awarded damages of 142,893 francs and was returned almost 2.23 million francs to a confiscated account. Blatter was awarded damages of 82,198 francs and an additional 20,000 francs in compensation.

Swiss prosecutors tried, but failed to argue convincingly, that the late payment to the legendary French international midfielder, then head of European football federation UEFA, was “made without legal basis “.

Despite Friday’s court victory, Blatter is still covered by a separate ban until 2028 over the “extraordinary bonuses” of 23 million Swiss francs he received for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.

During the trial in the eastern city of Bellinzona, Platini railed against the way he had been treated by FIFA and alluded to this in his post-trial statement.

“In this case, there are culprits who did not appear during this trial. Let them count on me, we will see each other again,” he said. “Because I will not give up and I will go all the way in my search for the truth.”

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