KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Swiss public prosecutors are to appeal against the not guilty verdicts obtained by Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini in the saga of the “disloyal payment” of two million Swiss francs.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office said it would request “the total annulment of the judgment of first instance.” FIFA, a civil party to the prosecution, has not yet announced whether it will follow suit. In July a court in Bellinzona cleared Blatter and Platini of fraud and corruption.
Blatter had been the all-powerful president of world football federation FIFA for 17 years while Platini, one of his vice-presidents and also supremo for eight years of European governing body UEFA when they were placed under investigation and expelled from the game in September 2015.
At issue was the infamous “disloyal payment” of 2m Swiss francs paid by FIFA on the authorisation of Blatter to Platini in February 2011. Platini had worked for FIFA between 1998 and 2002 before launching a football political career of his own.
Both men denied charges of “suspicion of fraud, unfair management, breach of trust and forgery.” The prosecution had demanded suspended 20-month jail sentences.
Blatter, 86, had said the two-million franc payment followed a “gentlemen’s agreement” between the pair when he employed Platini in 1998.
Platini worked as Blatter’s so-called ‘football counsellor’ until 2002 with an annual salary of 300,000 Swiss francs. This was the most FIFA could afford as it emerged from a financial crisis following the collapse of its marketing and media partners.
Blatter told the court that they had agreed the remainder of Platini’s one million per year salary would be settled at a more favourable financial time.
The court ignored suggestions that the payment had been connected with Platini’s decision not to challenge Blatter for the FIFA presidency in 2011.
The payment emerged following a the FIFAGate investigation launched by the United States Department of Justice into bribery, fraud and money-laundering at FIFA in 2015, which triggered Blatter’s resignation.
Both officials were banned in 2015 from soccer for eight years over the payment, although their bans were later reduced. Platini, who also lost his job as UEFA president following the ban, claimed the case had been a deliberate attempt to block his pursuit of the FIFA presidency in 2015.
The Swiss office of the attorney-general undertook 25 separate investigations arising out of the FIFA financial and World Cup awards scandals but no other major cases have been brought to court.