Michel Platini and the former president of the International Football Federation (Fifa), the Swiss Sepp Blatter, were acquitted on Friday July 8 in Switzerland in the fraud case which in 2015 shattered the Frenchman’s ambitions to access at the helm of world football.
The Federal Criminal Court of Bellinzona did not follow the requisitions of the prosecution, which had requested in mid-June respectively one year and eight months of suspended prison sentence, while the two former leaders proclaimed their innocence. The court ultimately found that the scam was not “not established with a likelihood bordering on certainty”thus applying the general principle of criminal law that “doubt must benefit the accused”.
For two weeks, the 67-year-old Frenchman and the 86-year-old Swiss had appeared to have “illegally obtained, to the detriment of Fifa, a payment of 2 million Swiss francs (1.8 million euros) (…) in favor of Michel Platini”. “A neutral court has finally found that no crime was committed in this case. My client is completely cleared and relieved”commented M.e Dominic Nellen, Michel Platini’s lawyer.
For his part, the ex-captain of the Blues rejoiced in a short press release to have “won a first match”while once again alluding to a political and judicial manipulation intended to remove him from power: “In this case, there are culprits who did not appear during this trial. Let them count on me, we will meet again”.
Michel Platini suspects in particular a hidden role of Gianni Infantino, his former right-hand man at UEFA elected in 2016 at the head of Fifa, and targeted since 2020 by a separate procedure for three secret meetings with the former head of the Swiss prosecution. .
An oral agreement without witness
Defense and prosecution agreed on one point: the triple Ballon d’Or advised Sepp Blatter well between 1998 and 2002, during the latter’s first term at the head of Fifa, and the two men signed a contract in 1999 agreeing to an annual remuneration of 300,000 Swiss francs, entirely paid by Fifa.
But in January 2011, the former midfielder (who in the meantime became UEFA president between 2007 and 2015) “enforced a claim of 2 million Swiss francs”qualified as “false invoice” by the prosecution. The two men insist on their side that they had from the start decided on an annual salary of one million Swiss francs, by a “gentlemen’s agreement” orally and without witnesses, without the finances of Fifa allowing immediate payment to Michel Platini.