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Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini's fraud and embezzlement trial to begin in Switzerland

Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter
Platini (left) was originally banned from football administration until 2023, while Blatter (right) remains banned until 2028. Both men could face prison if convicted of the charges.

Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, once the two most powerful men in world football, go on trial in Switzerland on Wednesday accused of fraud.

Swiss prosecutors claim that a 2011 payment of 2m Swiss francs (£1.6m) made by Blatter, former president of world football’s governing body Fifa, to Platini, ex-president of the European equivalent Uefa, was unlawful.

Both men deny wrongdoing and say the transfer was belated payment for Frenchman Platini’s advisory work for Fifa.

The pair were banned from football in 2015 and indicted in November last year

Who are the accused?

Michel Platini

French Captain Michel Platini celebrates a goal during the World Cup quarter-final against Brazil at the Jalisco Stadium in Guadalajara, Mexico. France won the match 4-3 on penalties
Platini won the Ballon d’Or – awarded to the player voted the best in the world – three times

Frenchman Platini, 66, is a three-time Ballon d’Or winner and one of football’s greatest players. In a glittering career he captained France to victory at the 1984 European Championship and won the 1985 European Cup with Juventus.

After a stint coaching the French national team he headed up the organising committee for the France 1998 World Cup finals and climbed the ranks in football’s international governing bodies, eventually rising to the summit at Uefa where he became president in 2007.

By 2015, Platini was tipped to succeed Blatter as president of Fifa, following Blatter’s resignation in the wake of corruption investigations and the arrest of several Fifa executives.

When Platini’s own conduct was investigated by Fifa’s ethics committee as part of a wider bid to root out corruption from the organisation, he stood down from the presidency of Uefa and was subsequently banned from football for eight years, though that was later reduced to four.

His appeal against the ban was rejected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) in 2020.

Sepp Blatter

Sepp Blatter
Blatter was Fifa president for 17 years

Swiss businessman and sports administrator Josef (Sepp) Blatter, 86, joined Fifa in 1975 and rose to the top, becoming general secretary in 1981 and president in 1998.

Despite a controversial reign at the summit of world football administration, Blatter continued to be re-elected as Fifa president, remaining in the role for 17 years.

Allegations of corruption, financial misconduct, bribery and vote-rigging by Fifa executives had begun before Blatter took power and continued throughout his presidency. An FBI investigation into money laundering, racketeering and fraud led to a raid on a Zurich hotel in 2015, where Fifa officials were arrested.

In total, 25 investigations into corruption in football were conducted by the Swiss Office of the Attorney General (OAG). Twelve are still pending resolution.

In 2015, Blatter received a ban from football for eight years – later reduced to six – following Fifa’s internal process. In 2021 he received a further six-year banexternal-link after the ethics committee investigated bonus payments.

What are they accused of?

After a six-year investigation, the OAG has accused Blatter of “fraud, in the alternative of misappropriation, in the further alternative of criminal mismanagement as well as of forgery of a document”.

Platini is accused of fraud, misappropriation, participating in criminal mismanagement as an accomplice, and forgery of a document.

The charges brought in November last year relate to a payment of 2m Swiss francs (£1.6m) authorised by Blatter to Platini in 2011.

The OAG investigation found that the two men agreed a contract of 300,000 Swiss francs per year for work done by Platini as a consultant to Fifa between 1998-2002. More than eight years after the conclusion of the contract and remuneration for his services, Platini is alleged to have demanded a further 2m Swiss francs.

Swiss prosecutors claim that, “with Blatter’s involvement, Fifa made a payment to Platini in said amount at the beginning of 2011. The evidence gathered by the OAG has corroborated that this payment to Platini was made without a legal basis. This payment damaged Fifa’s assets and unlawfully enriched Platini.”

Both men claim that a verbal agreement was made at the outset over the amount Platini would be paid and that the 2011 payment was simply back pay.

“It is outstanding salary, owed by Fifa, under oral contract and paid under conditions of the most perfect legality,” Platini has said. “We will prove in court that I acted with the utmost honesty.”

Blatter too has said the payment was legitimate.

“This case goes back to an event in 2011. It is an administrative matter, a salary payment that was owed,” he has said.

“The matter was correctly declared as a salary payment, accounted for accordingly and approved by all the relevant bodies of Fifa.”

What next?

The trial takes place at the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona, Switzerland and is due to conclude on 22 June, with a verdict expected on 8 July.

The defendants could be jailed for up to five years or fined, if found guilty.

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