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This is a case that caused thea fall of two great leaders of world football. Banished at the end of 2015, the former head of UEFA Michel Platini, and the former president of the International Football Federation (Fifa) Sepp Blatter appear for “fraud” since Wednesday June 8 before the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona, southeastern Switzerland.
The trial of the two men, which concerns the case of a suspicious payment of almost two million euros, is expected to last until June 22. A decision is expected on July 8. Franceinfo: Sport takes stock of what constitutes one of the most important football scandals of the 21st century.
What are Platini and Blatter accused of?
The main case points to a payment of 2 million Swiss francs (1.8 million euros) from FIFA to Michel Platini in 2011, for an advisory job completed in 2002. The former French international advised Sepp Blatter between 1998 and 2002. during the first term. of the Swiss leader at the head of FIFA, according to a written contract signed in 1999.
He accepted an annual fee of 300,000 Swiss francs, billed by the former Blues captain and paid in full by Fifa. However, in 2011, almost nine years after ending his activity as a consultant, Michael Platini “claimed a claim of 2 million francs Swiss”, paid for by the football authority “with the competition” by Sepp Blatter the public prosecutor of the Swiss Confederation affirmed in November.
According to the latter, “the evidence collected (…) has reinforced the suspicion that this payment to Platini was made without foundation”. Miguel Platini, 66, and Sep Blatter, 85, They were thus accused of “fraud”, “unfair management”, “abuse of trust” and “false titles”.
What is your defense?
From the beginning of the investigation, the two men hammer that it is a balance of payments for a job as a consultant carried out by the French between 1999 and 2002. They declare that they have decided orally, and without witnesses, of an annual salary of one million Swiss francs, without Fifa’s finances allowing Michel Platini to be paid at the time. They claim that they simply settled the balance late, in 2011.
At the end of 2018, Michel Platini filed a complaint against X for “defamatory complaint” Y “conspiracy“. “It’s all a conspiracy, a conspiracy (…) OrHe didn’t want me to be FIFA president.”said the french, in November 2019, on franceinfo.
The two defendants also denounced the attitude of Gianni Infantino, in particular at the opening of the investigation. Former French right-hand man at UEFA and unexpectedly elected head of FIFA in 2016, the Italian-Swiss has been in the crosshairs since 2020 of proceedings relating to three secret meetings with the former chief prosecutor. However, the Swiss justice refused to link the two files.
Last April, Michel Platini made public the presentation of a complaint in Paris against Gianni Infantino for “active influence peddling” and against Marco Villiger, former legal director of Fifa, for “complicity in active influence peddling”.
What sanctions have been taken against the two men since the beginning of the case?
This case brought down the two former leaders. Between 2015 and 2016, Platini and Blatter alternated between suspension decisions, appeals, and appeals. First of all suspended in October 2015 by the FIFA Ethics Committee for a period of 90 days, both were suspended on December 21 by FIFA from all football-related activities for eight years. Two months later, the suspensions of Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter were reduced to six years by the appeals committee.
In early May 2016, the Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced Platini’s suspension from six to four years, the length of one term. Blatter’s was maintained at six years. Between these seven months of proceedings, the former French leader announced, on February 25, his withdrawal from the elections for the FIFA presidency.
by his side, Sepp Blatter remains subject to legal proceedings in another case, that of the controversial award of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. Last November, he it sounded like “witness” in the framework of a judicial investigation opened in France by the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF). A Preliminary investigation has It was carried out for three years by the PNF, which then entrusted the investigations to an investigating judge in 2019, for “active and passive corruption”, “recruitment” and “money laundering”.
What are the two defendants risking?
The trial’s challenge is to clear up the mystery surrounding the oral payment agreement. The two defendants will have to explain the contradiction between the 1999 contract, the fact that this debt has never been provisioned by Fifa, and the contrast with the usual practices of the instance. The latter has never paid any employee or consultant “without written basis”, assured his former HRD in the disciplinary aspect of the procedure.
FIFA, the civil party in this case, seeks to be reimbursed for the salary and social charges paid in 2011, “so that the money embezzled by the defendants for personal purposes is returned to the only purpose for which it was intended: football”, pointed out to AFP Catherine Hohl-Chirazi, the trial attorney. Simple fraud is punishable by five years in prison. “or a financial penalty” in Swiss law.