FIFA trial: Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini cleared of corruption

Sports Friday 08/July/2022 13:47 PM
By: DW
FIFA trial: Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini cleared of corruption
Platini was set to take over Blatter's position as FIFA president before the allegations emerged

Swiss judges found ex-FIFA president Sepp Blatter and French football legend Michel Platini not guilty of corruption charges on Friday.

"My fight is a fight against injustice. I won a first game," said Platini on his acquittal.

Prosecutors acquitted Blatter on charges of unlawfully funneling 2 million Swiss francs ($2.06 million) of FIFA funds to Platini, a former France national team captain and manager in 2011. Blatter headed FIFA for 17 years. Platini hoped to be his successor.

The prosecution sought a suspended sentence of one year and eight months for both men. Platini would have also been fined for the original payment plus taxes. 

"I want to express my happiness for all my loved ones that justice has finally been done after 7 years of lies and manipulation," added Platini, who had been banned from soccer in 2015 along with Blatter for an initial eight year period over the alleged impropriety. The time period was later reduced.

The two former football greats claimed no wrongdoing throughout the trial which ran from June 8 to 22.

Why Blatter was accused of paying Platini

Knowledge of the payment came to light after the US Department of Justice launched an investigation into bribery, fraud and money-laundering at FIFA in 2015. Swiss prosecutors then logged a separate cooperating case that led to an investigation.

Plantini served as a technical advisor with a yearly salary of 300,000 Swiss francs ($306,742) between 1998 and 2002. Blatter told the court that this was the most FIFA could pay at the time due to financial difficulties. The rest of the Platini's salary would be settled at a later date.

The court alleged Platini "submitted to FIFA in 2011 an allegedly fictitious invoice for a (alleged) debt still existing for his activity as an adviser for FIFA in the years 1998 to 2002".

Blatter claimed that the $2.06 million payment was was a "gentlemen's agreement" between the pair for services rendered.

However, prosecutors alleged that the verbal agreement for Platini's advisory services was an "invention" and never existed.

A senior judge on the case said that the agreement seemed credible given Platini's market value. The judge told the court that it seemed unlikely that the former French footballer would have worked for $306,742. It was also plausible that Platini did not need the money immediately and waited until 2010 to request the funds.

Platini claims that the incident was designed to foil his bid to become FIFA president in 2015.

"In this case there are culprits who did not appear during this trial. Let them count on me, we will meet again." said the former football star in a statement distributed by his lawyer. "I will not give up and I will go all the way in my quest for truth."