Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini acquitted in FIFA corruption trial by Swiss court over £1.6m payment

·2-min read
Sepp Blatter has been cleared of a FIFA corruption charge by a Swiss court  (AFP via Getty Images)
Sepp Blatter has been cleared of a FIFA corruption charge by a Swiss court (AFP via Getty Images)

Former Fifa president Sepp Blatter and former UEFA president Michel Platini were both acquitted of corruption charges by a Swiss court today.

The pair stood trial over a payment of £1.6million made by Blatter to Platini in 2011, but both were found not guilty of fraud following an 11-day trial.

The men, once among the most powerful in football, denied any wrongdoing and said the money was belated payment for Platini’s advisory work for Fifa. On his arrival at court today, Blatter said: “I am not innocent in my life, but in this case I am innocent.”

Platini described his emotion after being acquitted and took aim at Swiss prosecutors following the judgement at the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinoza.

“I want to express my happiness for all my loved ones that justice has finally been done after seven years of lies and manipulation,” he said. “The truth has come to light. I kept saying it: my fight is a fight against injustice. I won a first game.”

The case meant Blatter, 86, who led Fifa for 17 years, ended his reign as president in disgrace and wrecked 67-year-old Platini’s hopes of succeeding him.

Blatter said the payment followed a “gentlemen’s agreement” between the pair when he asked Platini to be his technical adviser in 1998.

Platini worked as a consultant for Fifa between 1998 and 2002, with an annual salary of 300,000 Swiss francs — the most FIFA could afford because of the world governing body’s financial situation at the time, Blatter said. The pair agreed to settle the rest of Platini’s one million per year salary at a later date, Blatter said, with Platini approaching FIFA in January 2011 and the payment sent 10 days later.

“It was an agreement between two sportsmen. I found nothing wrong with that,” Blatter said.

Platini, who won the Ballon d’Or three times as a player, told the court: “I trusted the president, and knew he would pay me one day.”

Both were banned from football for eight years in 2015, although their suspensions 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.

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