Platini-Blatter trial: what are the charges against the defendants?

After six years of investigation, Michel Platini and the ex-president of Fifa Sepp Blatter appear from Wednesday June 8 before the federal criminal court of Bellinzona, in the south-east of Switzerland, in the case of payment suspect who broke their career in 2015. The verdict of the trial, which is held until June 22, is expected for July 8.

► What are the charges against the defendants?

The two former leaders of European and world football are accused of having “illegally obtained, to the detriment of Fifa, a payment of 2 million Swiss francs (1.8 million euros, editor’s note) in favor of Michel Platini”.

Michel Platini advised Sepp Blatter between 1998 and 2002 during the latter’s first term as head of FIFA. The two men signed a contract in 1999 agreeing to an annual remuneration of 300,000 Swiss francs, fully paid by Fifa.

However, in January 2011, almost ten years after the end of his activity as an adviser, Michel Platini “enforced a claim of 2 million Swiss francs” paid by FIFA “with the competition” of Sepp Blatter, reveals the prosecution. For the charge, it is a payment ” unfounded “obtained by inducing “artfully mistaken” the internal controls of Fifa by false assertions of the two leaders. These appear for ” scam “, “disloyal management”, ” breach of trust “ and “false in the titles”.

► What is their defense?

Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter declare that from the beginning they decided orally on an annual salary of 1 million Swiss francs. The balance was paid late because, at the time the agreement was established, Fifa’s finances did not allow an immediate payment. “This is a salary balance, owed by FIFA, by oral contract and paid under conditions of the most perfect legality. Nothing else ! I acted, like all my life and all my career, with the utmost honesty,” assures the Frenchman.

Even more, Michel Platini considers himself the victim of a conspiracy, noting that when the affair broke out, in 2015, he was a favorite to take the head of Fifa. He denounces in particular the role of Gianni Infantino, the current boss of world football, elected in 2016, who was his former right-hand man at UEFA and against whom he filed a complaint in November 2021 for “active influence peddling”.

Since 2020, Gianni Infantino has also been the target of a procedure relating to three secret meetings with the former chief prosecutor, in which a magistrate and the former legal director of Fifa have just been charged. But Swiss justice has so far refused to join the two files.

► What are they at risk?

Both men face up to five years in prison and a fine. Civil party, Fifa wishes to be restored the salary and social charges paid in 2011 to Michel Platini “so that the money embezzled by the defendants for personal purposes is returned to the one and only purpose for which it was intended: football”.

The affair has also made Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter pariahs of football. Suspended for the first time in October 2015 by FIFA’s Ethics Committee for a period of ninety days, they were then banned from all football-related activity for a period of eight years, reduced to six years by an appeals committee. In May 2016, the Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced Michel Platini’s suspension to four years.