Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini have been acquitted of fraud in a Swiss court. The two men, once among football’s most powerful figures, were acquitted of illegally arranging a two million Swiss francs (£1.7m) payment in 2011.
At the time, Platini was the president of Uefa and a Fifa vice-president and was expected to succeed Blatter as president of Fifa, world football’s governing body.
The payment to Platini for consultancy services in Blatter’s first term as president, from 1998 to 2002, was authorised by Blatter in January 2011 but ended up finishing both men’s careers in football.
Swiss prosecutors had told the court in Bellinzona that it “was made without a legal basis” and “unlawfully enriched Platini” but the judge in their trial found them not guilty. Platini will now get back his CHF 2m.
The Fifa ethics committee had banned them from football and removed them from office, and Blatter and Platini took their cases unsuccessfully to the Fifa appeals committee and later in separate appeals to the court of arbitration for sport.
Afterwards Platini pledged he would be going after unspecified “culprits” who led to the case against him. “I wanted 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 during this trial and I deeply thank the judges of the tribunal for the independence of their decision.
“I kept saying it – my fight is a fight against injustice. I won a first game. In this case, there are culprits who did not appear during this trial. Let them count on me, we will meet again because I will not give up and I will go all the way in my quest for truth.”
Blatter also made a short statement in which he said: “I’m not speaking about Fifa, I’m not speaking about corruption, I’m speaking about me. I have done nothing wrong. I am clean with my conscious, I am clean in my spirit.”
A statement from Fifa said: “Fifa takes note of the verdict of the court regarding the case opened by the OAG [office of the attorney general] and will await the full reasoned judgement before commenting further.”
*Source: The Guardian UK