Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini tried from this Wednesday in Switzerland for fraud

After an investigation haunted by power struggles, Michel Platini and ex-FIFA president Sepp Blatter appear for “fraud” this Wednesday, June 8 in Switzerland in the suspicious payment case which broke their trajectory in 2015 at the controls of world football. Until June 22, the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona, in the south-east of the country, will also judge the 66-year-old Frenchman and the 86-year-old Swiss for “unfair management”, “breach of trust” and “false in the titles” in the same file, before rendering its decision on July 8.

The two allies, who had become rivals as Platini grew impatient to succeed Blatter, were accused of having “illegally obtained, to the detriment of FIFA, a payment of 2 million Swiss francs [1,8 million d’euros] in favor of Michel Platini”, according to the prosecution. Both targeted by other procedures, in France for the triple Ballon d’Or and in Switzerland for Sepp Blatter, they risk five years’ imprisonment or a fine.

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An “unfounded” payment

The two men will be able to explain themselves in the affair which placed them under the ban of world football, at the very moment when Michel Platini, then boss of UEFA and still crowned with his sporting glory, seemed ideally placed to take the lead. of FIFA after the scandals which had forced Blatter to resign.

Defense and prosecution agree on one point: the Frenchman advised Sepp Blatter well between 1998 and 2002, during the latter’s first term as head of FIFA, and the two men signed a contract in 1999 agreeing to a annual remuneration of 300,000 Swiss francs, “fully paid by FIFA”according to the prosecution.

But, in January 2011, “more than eight years after the end of his activity as an adviser”the former captain of the Blues “enforced a claim of 2 million Swiss francs”acquitted by the football authority “with the competition” by Sepp Blatter. For the charge, it is a payment ” unfounded “obtained by inducing “artfully mistaken” FIFA’s internal controls by false assertions by the two leaders, which is the key criterion for the fraud.

The two men insist on their side that they had from the start decided on an annual salary of one million Swiss francs, orally and without witnesses, without the finances of FIFA allowing immediate payment to Michel. Platinum. According to the Frenchman:

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“This is a balance of salary, owed by FIFA, by oral contract and paid under conditions of the most perfect legality. Nothing else ! I acted, like all my life and all my career, with the utmost honesty. »

The shadow of Gianni Infantino

Like Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini also denounces the possible role of the current boss of world football, Gianni Infantino, in the triggering of the investigation. Former right-hand man of the French at UEFA and unexpectedly elected head of FIFA in 2016, the Italian-Swiss has been targeted since 2020 by a procedure relating to three secret meetings with the former chief prosecutor.

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But the Swiss justice having refused to join the two files, the debates should quickly refocus on the reality of the oral agreement of the two defendants: they will have to explain the contradiction with the 1999 contract, the fact that this debt did not have never been provisioned by FIFA, and the contrast with the usual practices of the body, which has never remunerated an employee or consultant “without written basis”assured his former HRD in the disciplinary part of the procedure.

As a civil party, FIFA intends to be reimbursed the salary and social charges paid in 2011, “so that the money embezzled by the defendants for personal purposes is returned to the one and only purpose for which it was intended: football”told AFP Me Hohl-Chirazi, litigation attorney.

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