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Swiss justice paves the way for the trial of Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter

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Former FIFA and UEFA presidents Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini have been indicted for illegally arranging a payment of two million Swiss francs (€ 1.88 million), the Swiss prosecutor’s office announced on Tuesday. .

Michel Platini and ex-FIFA president Sepp Blatter should be tried in Switzerland for fraud, among other charges, in the case of suspicious payment which has placed them since 2015 in the ban of world football, after their setting in accusation announced, Tuesday, November 2, by the prosecution.

It is up to the Federal Criminal Court of Bellinzona to verify the legality of the indictment and possibly send it back to the public prosecutor’s office to be completed, but a trial is now almost certain against the two former leaders, also prosecuted for “unfair management” , “breach of trust” and “falsehoods”.

A “baseless” payment

After six years of a well-publicized investigation, they are accused “of having illicitly arranged a payment of 2 million Swiss francs from Fifa”, or 1.8 million euros, “in favor of Michel Platini”, writes the confederal prosecution in a press release. In Switzerland, fraud is punishable by five years in prison or a fine.

Former allies who have become rivals, the two defendants are moving at the same time to the epilogue of the affair, which shattered their career at the top of world football, at the very moment when Michel Platini seemed ideally placed to take the presidency of Fifa .

“I await the trial before the Federal Criminal Court with optimism – and I hope that this story will end and all the facts will be cleared up,” Sepp Blatter said in a message to AFP. Hospitalized at the start of the year, the 85-year-old Swiss should benefit from a restricted hearing period.

Michel Platini says for his part “perfectly confident and serene about the outcome of this procedure”, deplores “the relentlessness” of the prosecution and “fully contests these unfounded and unjust accusations”.

In detail, defense and accusation agree on one point: the triple Ballon d’Or advised Sepp Blatter between 1998 and 2002, during the latter’s first term at the head of Fifa, and the two men signed in 1999 a written contract agreeing on an annual remuneration of 300,000 Swiss francs, “invoiced by Mr. Platini and fully paid by Fifa”.

But in 2011, “more than eight years after the end of his advisory activity”, the former captain of the Blues “asserted a claim of 2 million Swiss francs”, paid by the football authority “with the competition “of Sepp Blatter, according to the prosecution. For the prosecution, it is a payment “without foundation”, which “damaged the heritage of Fifa and provided Mr. Platini with illegitimate enrichment”.

The two men hammer on their side, since the start of the investigation, that they had orally decided on an annual salary of one million Swiss francs, without the finances of Fifa allowing it at the time. payment to Michel Platini, and simply paid the balance late.

Sweeping the idea of ​​a discreet arrangement to hide this sum, Sepp Blatter recalled Tuesday that all the competent bodies of Fifa had validated the payment, that the body had paid the corresponding pension contributions and that Michel Platini had “paid taxes on this amount at his place of Swiss residence “.

Gianni Infantino suspected

The hearing should also shed light on the circumstances in which this case erupted in 2015, four years after the settlement of the 2 million Swiss francs, in a context marked by the race to succeed Sepp Blatter, after a series of scandals affecting South American football officials.

The two defendants have long suspected the current FIFA boss Gianni Infantino or his entourage of having alerted the prosecution to this four-year-old transaction: then Michel Platini’s right-hand man at the head of UEFA, the Italo-Switzerland had foiled all forecasts by taking control of world football after the sidelining of his boss.

However, Swiss justice is investigating at the same time the “collusion” of its former chief prosecutor with Gianni Infantino, after three secret meetings between the two men, Michel Platini recalled on Tuesday, denouncing “judicial abuses unworthy of the rule of law”.

With AFP and Reuters

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