Swiss trial opens for ex-FIFA boss Blatter, ex-UEFA chief Platini

Former chiefs of world and European football are being tried for a suspected fraudulent payment made in 2011 and face up to five years in jail.

Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter is seen on a phone screen as he arrives to Switzerland's Federal Criminal Court for the start of his trial
Blatter is seen on a phone screen as he arrives at Switzerland's Federal Criminal Court [Fabrice Coffrini/AFP]

A trial has opened in Switzerland against Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, once the chiefs of world and European football, over a suspected fraudulent payment.

Former FIFA president Blatter, 86, and Platini, 66, appeared on Wednesday in the Federal Criminal Court in the southern city of Bellinzona, following an investigation that began in 2015 and lasted six years.

The pair are being tried over a two million Swiss franc ($2.08m) payment in 2011 to Platini, who was then in charge of European football’s governing body UEFA.

The former French football great “submitted to FIFA in 2011 an allegedly fictitious invoice for an (alleged) debt still existing for his activity as an adviser for FIFA in the years 1998 to 2002”, according to the court.

He and retired Swiss football administrator Blatter could face up to five years in jail.

The former president of the the European Football Association (Uefa), Michel Platini (C), and his lawyers arrive to the process at the Swiss Federal Criminal Court
Platini (C) and his lawyers arrive at the Swiss Federal Criminal Court [Alessandro Crinari/EPA]

Both have been accused of fraud and forgery of a document. Blatter is accused of misappropriation and criminal mismanagement, while Platini is accused of participating in those offences.

Blatter’s questioning was scheduled for Wednesday, followed a day later by Platini, and the testimonies will then begin.

The trial will conclude on June 22, and the verdict is expected on July 8.

Arrivals

Blatter arrived at court with his daughter Corinne and sat in the front row in court alongside his lawyer Lorenz Erni.

“I’m in a good mood with the beautiful sun that is here. I am confident because I have nothing to blame myself for,” Blatter said on his arrival before the start of the trial. “It takes two weeks, so I must be in a good mood on the first day.”

Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter (C), his daughter Corinne Blatter (L) and his lawyer Lorenz Erni arrive to Switzerland's Federal Criminal Court
Blatter (C), his daughter Corinne Blatter (L) and his lawyer Lorenz Erni arrive at Switzerland’s Federal Criminal Court [Fabrice Coffrini/AFP]

Platini and his legal team took their places a row behind Blatter. The process is taking place in German with French translation provided for Platini.

“I am convinced that justice will be fully and definitively done to me after so many years of wild accusations and slander,” Platini said in statement before the trial began.

“We will prove in court that I acted with the utmost honesty, that the payment of the remaining salary was due to me by FIFA and is perfectly legal.”

The case came to light in 2015 and ended Blatter’s reign as FIFA president and Platini’s campaign to succeed him.

Both were banned for eight years from football by the FIFA ethics committee but their suspension were later reduced by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Blatter and Platini have protested their innocence, citing a verbal agreement from 1998.

Source: News Agencies