Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini cleared of fraud by Swiss court

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Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and France great Michel Platini were cleared of corruption charges by a Swiss court on Friday, July 8. The two men, who were once the most powerful figures in global football, were acquitted of illegally arranging a two million Swiss francs payment in 2011 when Blatter was the FIFA president and Platini the vice-president of the global governing body.

Blatter, who led FIFA for 17 years, and Platini had denied the charges against them all through the court procedings.

Prosecutors had accused Blatter and Platini, of unlawfully arranging for FIFA to pay the Frenchman the said 2 million Swiss francs.

The case had severe complications on the two men as Blatter stood down as FIFA president in disgrace, while Platini’s hopes of succeeding Blatter for the top job came to an end after he was banned from the sport.

Blatter, 86, had said the two-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 organisation had at the time, Blatter has told the court, according to Reuters news agency.

The rest of Platini’s one million per year salary was to be settled at a later date, Blatter said.

HOW PLATINI AND BLATTER LOST POWER

When Blatter approved the payment, he was campaigning for re-election as FIFA president 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.

The payment emerged following a huge investigation launched by the U.S. 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 won the FIFA presidential elections in 2016.

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