Verdict due in corruption trial of former world football officials Blatter and Platini
BELLINZONA, Switzerland: Swiss judges are set to rule on Friday in the corruption trial of ex-FIFA president Sepp Blatter and France’s former football hero Michel Platini, once among soccer’s most powerful figures.
Prosecutors accuse Blatter, a Swiss who led global soccer body FIFA for 17 years, and Platini, a former France national team captain and manager, of unlawfully arranging for FIFA to pay the Frenchman 2 million Swiss francs ($2.06 million) in 2011.
Both deny the allegations.
Prosecutors have asked the court to impose suspended 20-month prison sentences on both men, and to compel them to repay Zurich-based FIFA 2.23 million Swiss francs.
The verdict is due around 0800 GMT.
The case meant Blatter ended his reign as FIFA president in disgrace and it wrecked Platini’s hopes of succeeding him after he was banned from football when the affair came to light.
Blatter, 86, had said the 2-million franc payment followed a “gentlemen’s agreement” between the pair when he asked Platini to be his technical adviser in 1998.
Platini, 67, worked as a consultant between 1998 and 2002 with an annual salary of 300,000 Swiss francs — the most FIFA could afford because of money troubles the organization had at the time, Blatter has told the court.
The rest of Platini’s 1 million per year salary was to be settled at a later date, Blatter said.
Motives for the payment are unclear, although the two men met in 2010 and discussed the upcoming elections for the FIFA presidency in 2011.
When Blatter approved the payment, he was campaigning for re-election against Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar. Platini, then president of European soccer association UEFA, was seen as having sway with European members who could influence the vote.
Prosecutors have said that the oral agreement between the two men for Platini to be paid 2 million francs later for his consultancy work never existed, and described it as an “invention.”
The payment emerged following a huge investigation launched by the US Department of Justice into bribery, fraud and money-laundering at FIFA in 2015, which triggered Blatter’s resignation.
Both officials were banned in 2015 from soccer for eight years over the payment, although their bans were later reduced.
Platini, who also lost his job as UEFA president following the ban, said the affair was a deliberate attempt to thwart his attempt to become FIFA president in 2015.
Platini’s former general secretary at UEFA, Gianni Infantino, entered the FIFA race and won the election in 2016.