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Former football chiefs Blatter, Platini charged


Kendy

Former football chiefs Blatter, Platini charged
Sepp Blatter (BBC)

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Bern – Former Fifa officials Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini have been charged with fraud and other offences in Switzerland.

Swiss prosecutors say Blatter unlawfully arranged a transfer of two million Swiss francs ($2.19m; £1.6m) to Platini in 2011.

Prosecutors say the payment “damaged Fifa’s assets and unlawfully enriched Platini”.

Blatter and Platini now face trial at a court in Bellinzona.

If found guilty of the charges, the pair could receive prison sentences of several years or fines.

The case was opened in September 2015 after Fifa, football’s world governing body, was dogged by accusations of widespread corruption.

Former football chiefs Blatter, Platini charged
Michel Platini (Reuters)

 

Fifa’s ethics committee launched an investigation which saw both men banned from the game and forced to leave their positions.

The affair ended Blatter’s 17-year spell in charge of Fifa and Platini’s campaign to succeed his former mentor.

A year later Platini was forced to resign as president of Uefa, Europe’s football governing body, after losing an appeal against his ban.

Both Blatter, 85, and Mr Platini, 66, have denied any wrongdoing.

The Swiss case centres on a request for payment for advisory work Platini did for the then-Fifa president Blatter between 1998 and 2002.

Prosecutors said Platini demanded the payment “over eight years after the termination of his advisory activity”.

“With Blatter’s involvement, Fifa made a payment to Platini in said amount at the beginning of 2011,” the prosecutors said.

They said Blatter and Plantini have both been accused of fraud, misappropriation, criminal mismanagement and forgery of a document.

On Tuesday Platini’s Swiss lawyer, Dominic Nellen, told the BBC his client “categorically denies the untrue accusations”.

Nellen said it was “clear that the investigation should have been discontinued long ago”.

“There are enough witness reports and documents in the case files that prove my client’s innocence,” the lawyer said. “I am 100% confident that we will be able to prove my client’s innocence in court.”

In his own statement, Blatter said he looked forward to the trial and hoped “this story will come to an end”.

He said the payment to Platini was based on a verbal agreement and had been delayed because Fifa was not able to pay the entire amount at the time.

Blatter said the payment had been approved by “all responsible Fifa bodies” and that Platini had paid tax on the amount “at his Swiss place of residence”. (BBC)