Platini and Blatter were acquitted in Switzerland after trying to defraud

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Bellinzona (Switzerland) (AFP) – After six years of investigation and two weeks of fraud in Switzerland, Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter were acquitted on Friday in the case that in 2015 ended the former French soccer player’s ambitions to reach the chief of world soccer.

The two defendants silently listened to the reading of the verdict in a case for which they were imprisoned for five years, for which the prosecution requested a suspended prison sentence for one year and eight months in mid-June.

Sepp Blatter celebrated as he left the field: “I am very happy (…) You will see, the football world will react well, because Platini and I were great minds in our organization.”

“An impartial court has finally concluded that no crime was committed in this case. My client has been completely acquitted and pardoned,” said Dominique Nelen, attorney for Michel Platini.

For his part, the former France captain celebrated in a short statement his “win in the first match,” again alluding to a political-judicial manipulation aimed at removing him from power: “In this case there are guilty parties who did not appear. In court proceedings. Count on me, we will see some of us.” some again.”

Sepp Blatter smiles as he leaves the Swiss court that acquitted him after being tried for payment fraud, on July 8, 2022 in Bellinzona, southern Switzerland. Fabrice Cofferini AFP

Michel Platini above all suspects a hidden role of Gianni Infantino, his former right-hand man in the European Football Association, who was elected in 2016 to the presidency of FIFA, and since 2020 the subject of a different procedure for three secret meetings with the person who headed the Swiss national team. Prosecutor’s Office.

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“Gentleman’s Agreement”

Having failed to link this case to the facts being tried in Bellinzona, the 67-year-old Frenchman and the 86-year-old Swiss appeared on charges of “unlawfully obtaining, on account of FIFA, 2 million Swiss francs” (1.8 million). € / $2 million) “for Michel Platini”.

The defense and the prosecution coincided in one point: the Golden Ball advised Sepp Blatter between 1998 and 2002, during the latter’s first term at the helm of FIFA, and in 1999 both men signed a contract providing for an annual bonus of 300,000 Swiss francs, in full paid by FIFA.

But in January 2011, the former Juventus midfielder – who at the time became UEFA president (2007-2015) – confirmed the existence of a “debt of two million Swiss francs”, which the accusation called a “falsified invoice”.

Key Dates of the Blatter Platini Scandal
Key Dates of the Blatter Platini Scandal Kenan Ogard, Agence France-Presse

The two men, for their part, insisted that they had agreed from the outset on an annual salary of one million Swiss francs through a verbal and unspeakable “gentleman’s agreement”, without FIFA’s finances allowing for Platini’s immediate payment.

Platini “was worth his million,” Sepp Blatter assured the judges, before Michel Platini recounted informal negotiations to the point that the currency was not specified: “I said jokingly ‘in pesta, in lira, in rubles, in Marcos, you decide,’” the Frenchman said. .

“Doubt” is enough to exonerate

Prosecutor Thomas Hildebrand highlighted the discrepancy between the 1999 contract, the discrepancy with the usual practices of egalitarianism and, more generally, those of the world of work, as he reviewed the FIFA audit reports.

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The attorney general noted that although the Zurich-based organization had paid 1 million Swiss francs to Platini since 1999, it still had “more than 21 million francs in cash,” reserves that rose to 327 million in 2002.

But the court held that fraud “has not been established with the prospect of confidence in certainty”, thus applying the principle of law under which “on suspicion in favor of the accused”.

The defense also argued that there was no clear motive for insulting Blatter, to whom the matter did not bring a penny.

The attorney general had launched “the question of whether these payments were linked to the elections should remain open, in the absence of convincing evidence”, allowing for the shadows of corruption.

The possibility of appeal remains open, a decision the prosecution said it has not yet made.

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