What have Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini been accused of?
Sepp Blatter denies approving fraudulent payments to Michel Platini, telling a Swiss court that a cash transfer followed a ‘gentleman’s agreement.’
“What FIFA did to me was scandalous. And the goal was that I didn’t become present of FIFA. They have accused me of falsifying accounts and money-laundering,” Michel Platini said after Sepp Blatter testified in a Swiss court on Thursday in a case surrounding alleged fraudulent payments made by the former FIFA president to the French football legend. Platini, a former UEFA chief, took the stand shortly after Blatter and told the court: “There is justice in this life and I hope that the truth will come to light.”
Swiss prosecutors accuse Blatter and Platini, once among football’s most powerful figures, of illegally arranging a two million Swiss franc ($2.04 million) payment in 2011. Blatter and Platini both deny the charges. Blatter previously told the judge that the payment was made “as a back payment of salaries” to Platini, who served as an advisor to Blatter between 1998 and 2002.
Platini asked to be paid one million francs per year but Blatter told the Frenchman that FIFA could not afford such a salary. Instead they agreed Platini, one of the greatest players of his generation, would be paid 300,000 francs per year, with the outstanding cash to be paid at a later date.
Blatter: “It was an agreement between two sportsmen”
“I knew when we started with Michel Platini that is not the total, and we would look at it later,” Blatter said referring to the agreed 300,000 francs salary for the job of technical consultant.
Sealed with a handshake, Blatter said the arrangement was a so-called “gentleman’s agreement”.
“It was an agreement between two sportsmen,” Blatter said. “I found nothing wrong with that.” Platini signed a written contract with FIFA in 1999, but it specified only a salary of 300,000 francs, with no mention of the extra payments.
Blatter also told the court that Platini had told him advice was worth “a million.” When asked about this comment, Platini clarified that he responded in this way “for fun” because the payment could be made “in pesetas, rubles or marks.”
Platini believes the case against him is of a political nature and feels it is no coincidence that it came to the fore in 2015, when he among the leading candidates to succeed Blatter as head of FIFA. Gianni Infantino, who was at the time secretary general at UEFA, was elected to the position and took up his post in 2016.
The Swiss Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has accused Blatter and Platini of “fraud, in the alternative of misappropriation, in the further alternative of criminal mismanagement as well as of forgery of a document.
Platini, who later became UEFA president, was also charged as an accomplice. A verdict is due on July 8. If convicted, Platini and Blatter face up to five years in jail. Both officials were banned in 2016 from soccer for six years over the payment.