Swiss court throws out Blatter and Platini charges

“I’m not innocent in life, but in this case I am,” Blatter said before the verdict on Friday. © Ti-press

Judges at the Federal Criminal Court have acquitted former FIFA boss Sepp Blatter and ex-UEFA head Michel Platini of allegations of corruption and fraud.

This content was published on July 8, 2022

The judges said on Friday they found no proof of wrongdoing in relation to a CHF2 million ($2.05 million) payment by FIFA to Platini in 2011, when Blatter was still president of the Zurich-based organisation.

Prosecutors had asked the court to impose suspended 20-month prison sentences on both men, and to make them repay CHF2.23 million to FIFA.

Throughout the trial, both men denied charges that the payment was unjustified, saying it was a back-dated salary for consulting work done by Platini between 1998 and 2002. It was based on a “gentlemen’s agreement”, Blatter previously said. Prosecutors claimed this two-decade-old oral agreement between the pair was an “invention”.

In a statement following the verdict on Friday, Platini expressed his “happiness for all my loved ones that justice has finally been done after seven years of lies and manipulation”. He also referred to the verdict as a “first game”, and that he would be taking further action in his “quest for truth”.

Long process

The Swiss investigation into the suspect payment was launched by the Office of the Attorney General in 2015, amid a series of scandals and an American-led inquiry into corruption at FIFA. A formal indictment was filed in November 2021.

The investigations led to the 2015 resignation of 86-year-old Blatter, who had been head of FIFA for 17 years. Platini, 67, also lost his role as president of UEFA, as well as his chances of succeeding Blatter at FIFA. Another Swiss, Gianni Infantino, was elected to the post in 2016.

A FIFA ethics investigation banned both men from football for eight years, although this ban was later reduced to six years.

On Friday, Blatter and Platini were awarded legal costs of CHF80,000 and CHF140,000 respectively. Blatter also accepted a payment of CHF20,000 as compensation for moral damages. Platini refused a similar offer, but he will now be able to reclaim the CHF2 million payment, which had been frozen.

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