Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini cleared of corruption charges

Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini pose for a photo on May 29, 2015. The two were once the most powerful figures in world football.

Michael Buholzer | AFP | beautiful pictures

Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and former UEFA president Michel Platini were both cleared of corruption charges by a Swiss court on Friday.

Blatter, who led FIFA for 17 years, was cleared of fraud by the Federal Criminal Court in the southern city of Bellinzona.

Platini, the former captain and manager of the French national team, was also acquitted of cheating.

Both, once the most powerful figures in world football, have denied the charges against them.

Prosecutors have charged Blatter, a Swiss who has led FIFA for 17 years, and that Platini illegally arranged for FIFA to pay the Frenchman two million Swiss francs (£1.7m) in 2011.

The incident meant Blatter ended his reign as FIFA president in disgrace and it dashed Platini’s hopes of succession after he was banned from football when the case came to light. the light.

Blatter said the payment follows a “gentleman’s agreement” between the two when he asked Platini to be his technical adviser in 1998.

Platini worked as a consultant from 1998 to 2002 with an annual salary of 300,000 Swiss francs (£257,000) – the highest salary FIFA could pay because of the money troubles the organization was facing at the time. , Blatter testified in court.

Blatter said the rest of Platini’s one million pounds a year (£857,000) salary would be paid at a later date.

The motive for the payment is unclear, although the two met in 2010 and discussed the upcoming election for the FIFA presidency in 2011.

When Blatter approved the payment, he was campaigning for re-election against Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar. Platini, then UEFA president, was seen as having swings with European members who could influence the vote.

The payment comes after a massive investigation initiated by the US Department of Justice into bribery, fraud and money laundering at FIFA in 2015, which led to Blatter’s resignation.

Both officials were banned from football for eight years in 2015 because of this payment, although their bans were later eased.

Platini, who also lost his UEFA presidency following the ban, said the incident was a deliberate attempt to thwart his bid to become FIFA president in 2015.

Platini’s former general secretary at UEFA, Gianni Infantino, entered the FIFA race and won the election in 2016.

Speaking after the ruling, Platini said: “I want to express my happiness to all my loved ones that justice has finally been done after seven years of lies and manipulation.”

He added: “My fight is against injustice. I won the first game.”

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