Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter to be tried for fraud in June

The speculation at the head of world football organizations will take a legal turn in a few weeks. Michel Platini and former FIFA president sepp blatter will appear for fraud from June 8 to 22 in Switzerland, in the case of suspicious payment that has placed them since 2015 in the world football ban. The 66-year-old Frenchman and the 86-year-old Swiss will also be tried for “unfair management”, “abuse of trust” and “forgery of titles” in the same case, the Federal Criminal Court of Bellinzona, in the canton. of Bellinzona, said Tuesday from Ticino.

After more than six years of a highly publicized investigation, the two allies-turned-rivals are accused of having “illegally obtained, at FIFA’s expense, a payment of 2 million Swiss francs” (1.8 million euros) “in favor of Michel Platini”, specifies the court. Both covered by other procedures, in France for Michel Platini and in Switzerland for Sepp Blatter, they face five years in prison or a fine if convicted of fraud.

“illegitimate enrichment”

In this part, the first to win a trial, the two defendants move towards the epilogue of the affair that destroyed their career at the top of world football, at the very moment that Michael Platini seemed to be in an ideal position to assume the presidency of FIFA. In detail, defense and prosecution agree on one point: the triple Golden Ball advised Sepp Blatter well between 1998 and 2002, during the latter’s first term at the head of FIFA, and in 1999 the two men signed a written contract in which agreed to an annual remuneration of 300,000 Swiss francs, “invoiced by Mr. Platini and paid in full by FIFA,” according to the prosecution.

But in 2011, “more than eight years after the end of his activity as an advisor”, the former Blues captain “claimed a claim of 2 million Swiss francs”, paid by the football body “with the competence” of Sepp. Blatter recalled the indictment in November. For the prosecution, it is a “baseless” payment, which “harmed FIFA’s assets and provided Mr. Platini with illegitimate enrichment.”

The two men insist for their part, from the beginning of the investigation, that they had verbally decided on an annual salary of one million Swiss francs, without FIFA’s finances at that time allowing payment to Mr Platini, and simply settled the matter. late balance.

L’ombre d’Infantino

Sweeping away the idea of ​​a discreet arrangement to hide this sum, Sepp Blatter did not fail to recall that all the competent bodies of FIFA had validated the payment, that the organization had paid the corresponding pension contributions and that Michel Platini had “paid taxes on this amount at your place of residence in Switzerland”. For the prosecution, it is instead an additional signal that FIFA’s financial management has been misled by a fictitious invoice.

The hearing should also shed light on the circumstances in which this matter broke out in 2015, four years after the liquidation of the two million, in a context marked by the race for the succession of Sepp Blatter, after a series of scandals involving to South-South officials. .football.

The two defendants have long been suspicious of the current head of FIFA, gianni infantino, or his environment, for having alerted the prosecution of this old transaction: then Michel Platini’s right arm at the head of UEFA, the Italian-Swiss had disrupted all predictions by taking control of world football after the departure of his boss. However, Swiss justice has been investigating in parallel since July 2020 the “collusion” of its former chief prosecutor with Gianni Infantino, after three secret meetings between the two men.

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