Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter to be tried in June for fraud

The profiteering at the head of the bodies of world football will take a legal turn in a few weeks. Michel Platini and the ex-President of FIFA Sepp Blatter will appear for fraud from June 8 to 22 in Switzerland, in the suspicious payment case that has placed them on the ban from world football since 2015. The 66-year-old Frenchman and the 86-year-old Swiss will also be tried for “dishonest management”, “breach of trust” and “false titles” in the same case, the Federal Criminal Court of Bellinzona, in the canton of Bellinzona, said Tuesday from Ticino.

After more than six years of highly publicized investigations, the two rival allies are accused of “illegally obtaining a payment of 2 million Swiss francs at FIFA’s expense” (1.8 million euros) ” in favor of Michel Platini”, the court specifies. Both are subject to other proceedings, in France for Michel Platini and in Switzerland for Sepp Blatter, they face five years in prison or a fine if found guilty of fraud.

“unlawful enrichment”

In this part, the first to get them to trial, the two defendants head for the epilogue of the affair that shattered their careers at the top of world football, when Michael Platin seemed ideally placed to assume the FIFA presidency. In detail, defense and prosecution agree on one point: the three-time Ballon d’Or advised Sepp Blatter well between 1998 and 2002, during his first term at the helm of FIFA, and the two men signed a written contract in 1999 in which they agreed to an annual fee of 300,000 Swiss francs, “billed by Mr Platini and paid in full by FIFA,” the prosecution said.

But in 2011, “more than eight years after the end of his activity as a consultant”, the ex-Blues captain claimed “a claim of 2 million Swiss francs”, paid by the football association “with the league” by Sepp Blatter, recalled the persecution in November. For the prosecutor, it is an “unfounded” payment, which has “damaged FIFA’s heritage and provided Mr Platini with illegal enrichment”.

For their part, the two men have insisted, since the start of the investigation, that they had verbally agreed on an annual salary of one million Swiss francs, without FIFA’s finances permitting it at the time. the balance too late.

Infantino’s shadow

Sepp Blatter brushed aside the idea of ​​a discreet scheme to hide this amount, never remembering that all the competent FIFA bodies had validated the payment, that the body had paid the corresponding pension contributions and that Michel Platini had “paid tax on this amount in his Swiss residence.” For the Public Prosecution Service, it is just an additional sign that FIFA’s financial management has been fooled by a fictitious invoice.

The hearing should also shed light on the circumstances in which this affair erupted in 2015, four years after the settlement of the two million, in a context marked by the race to succeed Sepp Blatter, following a series of scandals involving South-South officials were involved in American football.

The two accused have long suspected the current FIFA boss, Gianni Infantino, or his entourage, because they had alerted the prosecution to this old transaction: when Michel Platini’s right arm at the head of UEFA, the Italian-Swiss thwarted all predictions by taking control of world football after the absence from his boss. However, Swiss justice has been investigating in parallel the “conspiracy” of its former chief prosecutor with Gianni Infantino since July 2020, after three secret meetings between the two men.

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