Former Fifa officials Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini will go on trial for fraud and other offences on June 8, Switzerland’s federal criminal court revealed on Tuesday.
The 11-day trial before three judges will begin more than six years after criminal proceedings were opened, first against Blatter for a 2011 payment of $2 million he authorised Fifa to make to Platini.
Platini made a written request to Fifa in January 2011 to be paid backdated additional salary for working as a presidential adviser in Blatter’s first term, from 1998-2002.
The allegations revealed by Swiss federal prosecutors in September 2015 removed Blatter early from the Fifa presidency and ultimately ended Platini’s campaign to succeed him. Platini was also ousted as Uefa president after he was banned from football because of the payment.
Blatter has been charged with fraud, mismanagement, misappropriation of Fifa funds and forgery of a document. Platini has been charged with fraud, misappropriation, forgery and as an accomplice to Blatter’s alleged mismanagement.
Fraud and forgery charges can be punished with jail sentences of up to five years.
Blatter, who turned 86 last month, and Platini, who turns 67 in June, have denied wrongdoing. They have cited a verbal agreement more than 20 years ago for the money to be paid eventually.
When Blatter cleared the Fifa payment in 2011 he was preparing to campaign for re-election in a contest against Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar, where Platini’s influence with European voters was seen as a key factor.
“The evidence gathered by the (attorney general’s office) has corroborated that this payment to Platini was made without a legal basis,” federal prosecutors said last year when the two men were indicted.
Although Blatter was under suspicion since 2015, Platini was not placed under formal investigation until 2020 when a different lead prosecutor was handling the case. Several months later, the more serious allegation of fraud was included against both men.
In 2015, the Fifa ethics committee suspended both men from football for six years. Platini’s ban was later reduced on appeal to four years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport and he was cleared to return to football duty in October 2019.
Before Blatter's sanction expired last year, Fifa banned him a second time for financial wrongdoing linked to management bonuses for successfully staging the World Cup.
Blatter had a serious bout of ill health after undergoing heart surgery in December 2020, which delayed a final round of questioning by Swiss authorities.