Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini cleared of corruption by Swiss court

Prosecutors had accused Blatter and Platini of unlawfully arranging for Fifa to pay the Frenchman two million Swiss francs ($2.06 million) in 2011

Sepp Blatter arrives at Switzerland's Federal Criminal Court where he was cleared of fraud alongside former Uefa chief Michel Platini. AFP
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Former Fifa President Sepp Blatter and France footballing legend Michel Platini were cleared of corruption charges by a Swiss court on Friday.

Blatter was the head of world football for 17 years before resigning amid a corruption scandal that rocked the sport, was cleared of fraud by the Federal Criminal Court in the southern city of Bellinzona.

Platini, a former France national team captain president of European football governing body Uefa, was also acquitted of fraud.

The two, once among the most powerful figures in world football had denied the charges against them.

Swiss federal prosecutors said they would examine the written verdict before deciding whether to appeal.

"I have always said my conscience is clear," a relieved but frail-looking Blatter told reporters outside the court.

"Naturally nobody's perfect, but in the case of my job, my work, 44 years working at FIFA, for me it is so important that this case has been settled at the highest Swiss level," the 86-year-old added.

Platini, aged 67, also described his joy, saying the allegations had turned him from a legend of world soccer to a "devil".

"I want to express my happiness for all my loved ones that justice has finally been done after seven years of lies and manipulation," Platini said.

"The truth has come to light," he added. "I kept saying it: my fight is a fight against injustice."

Prosecutors had accused Blatter and Platini of unlawfully arranging for Fifa to pay the Frenchman two million Swiss francs ($2.06 million) in 2011.

The case meant Blatter ended his reign as Fifa president in disgrace and it wrecked Platini's hopes of succeeding him after he was banned from football when the affair came to light.

Blatter, 86, had said the two-million franc payment followed a "gentlemen's agreement" between the pair when he asked Platini to be his technical adviser in 1998.

Former Uefa president Michel Platini arrives at Switzerland's Federal Criminal Court. AFP

Platini, 67, worked as a consultant between 1998 and 2002 with an annual salary of 300,000 Swiss francs - the most Fifa could afford because of money troubles the organisation had at the time, Blatter has told the court.

The rest of Platini's one million per year salary was to be settled at a later date, Blatter said.

Motives for the payment were unclear, although the two men met in 2010 and discussed the upcoming elections for the Fifa presidency in 2011.

When Blatter approved the payment, he was campaigning for re-election against Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar. Platini, then president of Uefa, was seen as having sway with European members who could influence the vote.

The payment emerged following a huge investigation launched by the US 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 football for eight years over the payment, although their bans were later reduced.

Updated: July 08, 2022, 10:37 AM