Prosecutors Appeal Blatter, Platini Acquittal In FIFA Fraud Trial

Former UEFA president Michel Platini reacts as he talks to journalists after the verdict of his trial over a suspected fraudulent payment, at Switzerland’s Federal Criminal Court, in the southern Switzerland city of Bellinzona, on July 8, 2022. – Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, once the chiefs of world and European football, were acquitted over a suspected fraudulent payment that shook the sport and torpedoed their time at the top. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

 

 

Swiss prosecutors said Thursday that they had filed an appeal against the acquittal of former football chiefs Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini over a suspected fraudulent payment.

Blatter and Platini, once the chiefs of world and European football respectively, were cleared on July 8 by the Federal Criminal Court in a trial following a mammoth investigation that began in 2015.

The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) told AFP that it had filed the appeal before the deadline was reached Wednesday night, confirming a report in L’Equipe.

Switzerland’s top prosecutor “has applied for the full annulment of the first-instance judgement,” a spokeswoman for the Office of the Attorney General wrote in an email.

The prosecutors reportedly had 20 days to make their intentions clear after the reception of the full verdict from the Federal Criminal Court, based in the southern city of Bellinzona, on September 29.

Former FIFA president Blatter, 86, and Platini, 67, were cleared of the allegations that shook world football and torpedoed their time at the top.

The Federal Criminal Court rejected the prosecution’s request for a suspended prison sentence of a year and eight months.

The trial revolved around payment for Platini’s work as an adviser to Blatter between 1998 and 2002.

Platini was accused of having submitted to FIFA in 2011 an allegedly fictitious invoice for a claimed debt still outstanding for his advisory work.

They signed a contract in 1999 for an annual remuneration of 300,000 Swiss francs, which was paid in full by FIFA.

But the pair were tried over a two million Swiss franc ($2.06 million) payment in 2011 to Platini, who was then in charge of European football’s governing body UEFA.

Blatter told the court the pair had actually struck a “gentleman’s agreement” for Platini to be paid a million Swiss francs a year.

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

The court concluded that fraud was “not established with a likelihood bordering on certainty”, and therefore applied the general principle of criminal law according to which “the doubt must benefit the accused”.

Blatter, Platini Probe Shifts To Fraud Accusation

Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter gestures during a press conference in Zurich on March 8, 2018.
Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and ex-UEFA chief Michel Platini are now being investigated for “fraud” and “breach of trust” in Switzerland, a source with access to the probe said on Friday.

The former power brokers of world football were originally part of a legal procedure opened in 2015 over a 2011 payment to Platini of two million Swiss francs ($2.2 million).

The Swiss prosecutors have decided to change the focus of their investigation, the same source said.

Former Juventus and France midfielder Platini received the payment from FIFA for advisory work completed in 2002.

Prosecutors are investigating on suspicion of “complicity in unfair management, embezzlement and forgery”.

The Swiss Public Ministry of the Confederation (MPC) in Bern has the power to use further legal manoeuvres to call for the sum to be paid.

Platini’s entourage told AFP on Friday the Swiss prosecutors were “maintaining this five-year-old case artificially by widening the accusations”.

FIFA deemed the payment authorised by Blatter a “disloyal payment” and suspended Blatter and Platini from all football-related activities, which prevented the former UEFA chief from running for another term as president in 2016.

In a statement to AFP on Friday, Blatter said: “I have done nothing wrong in making back payments based on a joint agreement.”

Blatter was removed from office in 2015 after 17 years at the head of FIFA.

Football’s world governing body has been rocked by a number of scandals over the last decade.

In October, former FIFA number two Jerome Valcke was handed a suspended 120-day sentence and fined 1.65 million euros ($1.92 million) by a Swiss court over the allocation of World Cup TV rights.

It was the first judgement handed down in Switzerland, the seat of most international sports organisations, in the 20 or so proceedings opened in the last five years involving FIFA.

Two former Latin American football leaders have been jailed in the United States over their role in corruption.

AFP

Michel Platini Grilled By Swiss Prosecutor In Payment Probe

In this file photo taken on June 01, 2011 UEFA president Michel Platini attends the 61st FIFA congress at the Zurich Hallenstadion in Zurich. AFP

 

 

 

Michel Platini was quizzed by a Swiss prosecutor on Monday in a probe investigating a two-million-Swiss-franc ($2.2-million) payment that the former European football chief received from FIFA in 2011.

Platini was summoned to Switzerland’s capital Bern by prosecutor Thomas Hildbrand. Sepp Blatter, the former president of the sport’s world governing body FIFA, is due to meet the prosecutor on Tuesday as part of the same proceedings.

Platini, the ex-head of European football’s governing body UEFA, was questioned for around three hours at the Office of the Attorney General (OAG).

“The questions went very well for my client,” Platini’s lawyer Dominic Nellen told AFP after the meeting, which was held behind closed doors.

“He responded to all the questions that the OAG asked him and told how everything went down and what the truth is with the payment of the two million. We are awaiting the deposition of other witnesses in the coming days.

“There is nothing that we fear because they will tell the truth and the prosecutor can see for himself that there’s nothing illegal about that payment.”

 

Platini Wishes FIFA Ethics Panel Would 'Disappear'
In this file photo taken on May 20, 2017 French former football player and former UEFA head Michel Platini attends the French L1 football match between Nancy (ASNL) and Saint-Etienne (ASSE) at Marcel Picot stadium in Tomblaine, eastern France. JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN / AFP

 

Platini appeared in good spirits as he entered the complex housing the OAG.

– Further questions expected –

Platini and Blatter each face interrogation from the public prosecutor as part of the proceedings, which were opened in 2015.

In June, Hildbrand formally added Platini to an investigation into the payment he received from FIFA in 2011 for an advisory job completed in 2002, on suspicion of “complicity in unfair management, embezzlement and forgery in securities”.

Platini said at the time that the OAG had “confirmed in writing in May 2018” that his case was closed.

The 65-year-old former French football great now has the status of “accused” alongside Blatter.

Platini has been questioned once before by Swiss prosecutors but Monday was the first time he was grilled as an accused person, his lawyer said.

Nellen said he expected a further meeting with Hildbrand, at which the former UEFA chief will face further questions.

Two other former FIFA executives, Frenchman Jerome Valcke, the former secretary-general, and German Markus Kattner, the former financial director, are being investigated on “suspicion of unfair management”, the OAG has said.

Kattner will be questioned on September 4.

– ‘Back pay’: Blatter –

Platini, who was UEFA president from January 2007 to December 2015, has claimed he is being persecuted by FIFA.

“After five years, it is quite possible that FIFA will continue to harass me through complaints with the sole aim of keeping me out of football and smearing my reputation,” he said in June.

Blatter, who is 84, told AFP the payment was above board.

“It was back pay for work done by Michel Platini. The sum was validated by the finance commission. It cannot be a criminal offence,” Blatter said, adding that he was “serene” ahead of the new hearing.

FIFA deemed the sum a “disloyal payment” and suspended Blatter and Platini from all football-related activities, which prevented the former UEFA chief from running for the FIFA presidency in 2016.

Platini appealed against his initial eight-year suspension at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which reduced it to four years, then the Swiss Federal Court and finally at the European Court of Human Rights.

Hildbrand questioned Blatter in late July and early August in connection with a separate investigation into television rights contracts issued to the Caribbean Football Union.

Platini is regarded among world football’s greatest-ever players. He won the Ballon d’Or, considered the most prestigious individual award, three times — in 1983, 1984 and 1985.

Only Lionel Messi (six) and Cristiano Ronaldo (five) have won more Ballons d’Or than Platini.

AFP

FIFA Files Court Claims To Retrieve $2m From Platini

Platini Wishes FIFA Ethics Panel Would 'Disappear'
FIFA ex-Vice Presidents Michel Platini/ AFP

 

FIFA on Monday said it had filed court claims in Switzerland to force Michel Platini to return two million Swiss francs ($2 million, 1.84 million euros) he received during Sepp Blatter’s reign at world football’s governing body.

FIFA banned Platini, its then vice president, in 2015 over the payment he received, sparking years of bitter recriminations from the Frenchman and a falling out with his former ally Blatter.

In a document seen by AFP last week, FIFA said it would take legal action by the end of the year “to recover the money illegally paid” by Blatter to Platini.

The organisation confirmed Monday it had launched such proceedings.

“This follows the unanimous resolution recently adopted by the FIFA Governance Committee in which it emphasised that FIFA was duty-bound to try to recover the funds illicitly paid by one former official to another,” FIFA said in a statement.

“Even the Swiss Federal Supreme Court has confirmed that this 2 million Swiss franc gift was to be viewed as an ‘undue payment’.”

It added: “If and when successfully recovered, these funds (together with interest) will be fully channelled back into football development, which is where the money should have gone in the first place.”

Blatter authorised the payment in 2011. The Swiss authorities started investigating in 2015 while FIFA’s ethics investigators branded the payment “disloyal” and banned Platini for six years.

The Frenchman subsequently appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which reduced his suspension to four years while ruling it “was unconvinced as to the legitimacy of the payment, which was only recognised by Mr. Platini and Mr. Blatter.”

AFP

FIFA To Take Legal Action In Recovery Of $2m From Platini

Platini Wishes FIFA Ethics Panel Would 'Disappear'
French former football player and former UEFA head Michel Platini attends the French L1 football match between Nancy (ASNL) and Saint-Etienne (ASSE) at Marcel Picot stadium in Tomblaine, eastern France. JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN. AFP

 

FIFA is to take legal action by the end of the year to force Michel Platini to return two million Swiss francs ($2 million) he received “illegally” during Sepp Blatter’s reign at world football’s governing body, according to a document seen Wednesday.

FIFA banned Platini, its then vice president, in 2015 over the payment. It said in the document seen by AFP it would take action “to recover the money illegally paid by the former President of FIFA to the former Vice President of FIFA.”

The document explained that FIFA also planned to target Blatter and that, under Swiss law, FIFA has until December 31 to file a claim in court.

FIFA said it planned to sue Blatter at the same time and would be seeking “interest at the appropriate rate” and “disciplinary fines and costs… both ordered but not paid.”

Blatter authorised the payment in 2011. The Swiss authorities started investigating in 2015.

FIFA’s ethics investigators branded the payment “disloyal” and banned Platini for six years.

The Frenchman appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which reduced his suspension to four years but said that it “was not convinced by the legitimacy of the payment, which was only recognised by Mr. Platini and Mr. Blatter.”

Platini has always maintained the money was a legitimate payment and he did nothing wrong.

FIFA said in the document that the “undue payment…had no basis in law, and that fact has been established in various courts and tribunals up to the level of the Swiss Supreme Court.”

AFP

Ex-UEFA Chief Platini Taking Action To Recoup Back Pay, Legal Fees

File Photo: Ex-UEFA chief Michel Platini.

 

Former UEFA president Michel Platini is taking action to obtain substantial amounts of back pay as well as a bonus and legal fees, he told AFP on Friday.

According to sources close to Platini, whose four-year suspension from football ended in October, the former France international is seeking to recoup around 7.2 million euros ($7.9 million), including 5.5 million euros in back pay.

Platini did not confirm the amounts.

“Through my lawyer, I am asking for the contractual elements to be applied,” Platini said.

A triple Ballon d’Or winner, Platini was expected to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA president in 2016 but fell spectacularly from grace a few months earlier.

The 64-year-old was suspended by world football’s governing body in 2015 over a controversial payment of two million Swiss francs (1.8 million euros, $2 million) that he received from Blatter.

The payment, made in 2011 when Blatter was seeking re-election as president, was related to work carried out by Platini between 1999 and 2002.

Platini has always insisted he did nothing wrong.

His suspension ended on October 6 and he has said he now hopes to find a new role in football.

The former Juventus star said the bonus that he wanted repaid was linked to the organisation of Euro 2016.

Platini’s Swiss lawyer Vincent Solari confirmed that legal proceedings had begun.

“We have claimed the remaining amount of the back pay which we believe is owed according to the contract.”

Blatter was subsequently suspended for six years after presiding over world football 18 years from 1998 to 2015.

Ex-UEFA Boss Platini Returns To Football

Platini

 

Former UEFA president Michel Platini is finally free to return to football next week when his four-year ban for ethics violations ends, although he remains linked to a corruption investigation in his home country relating to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The former France captain and national coach went on to become one of the game’s most prominent administrators when he was elected president of European football’s governing body in 2007.

A triple Ballon d’Or winner, Platini was expected to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA president in 2016 but fell spectacularly from grace a few months earlier.

He was banned from football for receiving a two-million Swiss franc (1.8 million euros, $2 million) payment from the head of the world game, with Blatter banned for eight years, later reduced to six, for his part.

The payment, made in 2011 when Blatter was seeking re-election as president, was related to work carried out by Platini between 1999 and 2002.

The pair were found guilty of “abusive execution” of their powers and a conflict of interests.

Platini, now 64, has been battling to clear his name ever since, although his ban was reduced to four years from an initial six, leaving him free to work in football again when the suspension expires on Monday.

With the former Saint-Etienne and Juventus midfielder sidelined, he watched on as Gianni Infantino, once his right-hand man at UEFA, became FIFA president in February 2016. The Swiss-Italian was re-elected in June this year.

 ‘I will be back’ 

Approached by AFP on Friday, Infantino declined to comment on Platini, who made his determination, and bitterness towards FIFA, clear in an interview with Swiss television channel RTS last month.

“I will be back. I don’t know where, I don’t know how. I can’t go out of the game on the back of a ban, even if it’s a ban made by idiots,” he said.

Speaking to French daily Le Monde about what the future holds, he added: “I have had lots of offers and requests to become a pundit, to do the Euros, the World Cup.”

In an interview with French sports daily L’Equipe, he played down talk of a return to the top levels of football administration, although he has been linked with the role of president of the French Football Federation when that position opens up in 2021.

“My wife taught me never to go back, to not experience the same love affair twice. So yes, that closes doors for me, notably those at UEFA,” he said.

“My suspension ends in October, while the last elections for the FIFA presidency took place in May and the next ones will be in four years,” he added. “They arranged that well in Zurich.”

One source close to UEFA said the organisation’s current president, Aleksander Ceferin, “could support Platini” as a candidate for the FIFA presidency in 2023 as the Slovenian “cannot stand” Infantino.

By then, the Qatar World Cup will have come and gone, but Platini has been dogged by his connections to the controversial awarding of that tournament.

In June this year he was held and questioned by French anti-corruption police investigating the 2010 vote to award the tournament to the Gulf state.

According to France Football magazine, a “secret meeting” took place in November 2010 at the Elysee Palace in Paris between former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, Qatar’s then-Prince (now Emir) Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and Platini, who was then both UEFA president and FIFA vice-president.

Just over a week later, FIFA voted to award Qatar the 2022 tournament.

Blatter, then FIFA president, claimed Qatar won hosting rights as a result of a deal with France. Platini dismissed Blatter’s allegations as a “tissue of lies”.

“Because I go to eat at the President’s home to tell him who I am going to vote for as hosts of the 2022 World Cup, I get arrested? There is a whole load of things that have happened to me in the last four years that are intolerable, unbearable,” he told L’Equipe.

“If I had really been involved in corruption, the Swiss and the Americans would have found something long ago.”

AFP

2022 World Cup: Ex-UEFA Chief Platini Arrested In Connection With Criminal Probe

In this file photo taken on June 01, 2011 UEFA president Michel Platini attends the 61st FIFA congress at the Zurich Hallenstadion in Zurich. PHOTO: SEBASTIAN DERUNGS / AFP

 

The banned ex-UEFA chief Michel Platini was arrested on Tuesday in connection with a criminal investigation into the award of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

The French football legend elected to lead European football’s governing body in 2007 was taken into custody by French anti-corruption police investigating the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to the gas-rich Gulf state.

Qatar was named to host the World Cup in a decision that triggered controversy over its suitability amid allegations of corruption that ultimately sparked FIFA’s worst ever scandal five years later.

France’s Financial Crimes Prosecutors Office (PNF) opened a preliminary investigation in 2016 into allegations of corruption, conspiracy and influence peddling surrounding FIFA’s award of the World Cup to Qatar and also the 2018 tournament to Russia.

According to Blatter, Qatar won hosting rights as a result of a deal with the French, derailing FIFA’s own “diplomatic arrangement” whereby hosting rights would go to Russia in 2018 and then to the United States four years later.

The French investigation centres on alleged French intervention linked toPlatiniand former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

According to the specialist magazine France Football, a “secret meeting” took place on November 23, 2010, at the Elysee Palace in Paris between Sarkozy, Qatar’s then-Prince (now Emir) Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and Platini, at that time both UEFA president and vice-president of FIFA.

Just over a week later, FIFA awarded Qatar hosting rights for the 2022 tournament.

Platini has made no secret of his support for Qatar but denies he was influenced by Sarkozy, whose advisor for sport, Sophie Dion, was also arrested along with Platini.

“It was time to give them the World Cup. I am for that. It’s my conviction,” he said at the time.

Claude Gueant, Sarkozy’s erstwhile chief of staff and former interior minister, was also called in for questioning Tuesday by France’s Anti-Corruption Office of the Judicial Police.

The decision to award the event to Qatar ultimately led to a wider corruption probe that led to the overthrow of Blatter and Platini and the arrest of senior FIFA figures.

Platini, 63, led UEFA until 2015 when he was banned from football for four years for ethics violations including receiving a two-million Swiss francs (1.8 million euros, $2 million) payment from the disgraced former head of FIFA Sepp Blatter.

Qatar has been accused of buying votes in its bid to stage the World Cup and a subsequent report by US independent investigator Michael Garcia unearthed an array of suspect financial dealings, many linked to Sandro Rosell, the ex-Barcelona president who served as a consultant for Qatar.

Platini, a triple Ballon d’Or winner, was expected to succeed Blatter as FIFA president in 2016 before his fall from grace. He has been battling to clear his name ever since.

AFP

Platini Wishes FIFA Ethics Panel Would ‘Disappear’

Platini Wishes FIFA Ethics Panel Would 'Disappear'
(FILES) In this file photo taken on May 20, 2017 French former football player and former UEFA head Michel Platini attends the French L1 football match between Nancy (ASNL) and Saint-Etienne (ASSE) at Marcel Picot stadium in Tomblaine, eastern France. JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN / AFP

 

Michel Platini wishes the FIFA Ethics Committee which banned him from the sport would disappear, he told two Swiss newspapers in an interview to be published on Saturday.

Platini was banned from football activities over a two million Swiss francs (1.8 million euros, $2 million) payment from FIFA, took his case to the Swiss courts and was provisionally cleared last week. He is now campaigning for FIFA, the governing body of world football to lift his four-year ban from the sport.

The former UEFA president said in his interview that his goal “is to change this biased and opportunistic justice so that it can no longer, in the future, remove adversaries. I do not want more injustices.”

“This masquerade of justice must be stopped,” Platini said. “In this battle, I will stop at nothing.”

Platini did not suggest any alternative system for fighting corruption in FIFA.

While Platini’s lawyer says the courts have cleared the former France captain, Swiss prosecutors have insisted that the investigation “is not completely over”. Platini could still be required to appear before a judge if new evidence is found.

In his interview, Platini said: “I want this Ethics Committee whose sole purpose is to serve as a weapon of FIFA to remove opponents to disappear.”

He added that he hopes his appeal to the European Court of Human Rights “will put an end to this system where people are both judges and interested parties and whose only objective is to protect their bonuses, their business and themselves.”

Platini, who insists the payment was for work he had done, said that during his FIFA appeal, “two out of four judges were taking a nap and even by the end had not understood that I had produced the bill to make FIFA pay me what they owed me.”

“And that’s ethical behaviour?” he asked.

Platini Hopeful Of FIFA Lifting His Ban

Platini
FILE PHOTO

 

Former UEFA president Michel Platini said Saturday FIFA must now lift his ban over a 1.8-million-euro payment after Swiss prosecutors said they had found no evidence so far to bring charges against him.

“I hope that FIFA will have the courage and the decency to lift my suspension,” Platini told AFP in a telephone interview.

Platini was suspended from all football-related activities, later reduced on appeal to four years, by FIFA following a $2 million payment he received from the body in 2011 for work he did a decade earlier, with no contract to show for the deal.

The payment was authorised by FIFA’s then chief, Sepp Blatter. The disgraced Blatter is also now banned following the scandal that rocked world football.

Swiss prosecutors have been investigating the payment and French newspaper Le Monde reported that Platini had been cleared.

The Swiss public prosecutor’s office said Saturday that although no evidence had been found “so far” to bring charges against Platini, the investigation “is not completely over”.

Platini could still be required to appear before a judge if “new evidence” is found in the case, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said.

The Swiss investigation concerns the activities of Blatter during his 17-year presidency of FIFA.

 ‘There are no charges’ 

Platini’s lawyer Vincent Solari insisted the case was now effectively over.

“There are no charges, he will not be prosecuted,” Solari told AFP.

FIFA dismissed the claims from Platini’s legal team, saying in a statement that Platini had been suspended for breaching its “Code of Ethics”, not because of the Swiss probe.

“Mr. Platini was suspended for breaching the FIFA Code of Ethics. The decision was upheld by CAS (the Court of Arbitration for Sport), which confirmed the charges but reduced the length of the suspension,” the statement said.

“It has always been very clear to FIFA and CAS that Mr. Platini had never been the target of a criminal investigation in Switzerland.”

But Platini, who was one of France’s highest-profile players before moving into football administration, told AFP he believed he was now in the clear.

“My legal advisers will take all the necessary measures to ensure the FIFA suspension is lifted,” he said.

“It has been very difficult for me… I’ve really had a lot thrown at me.”

Platini said he believed the suspension had one aim: “Everything has been done to prevent me becoming FIFA president.”

In the wake of Blatter’s removal, Gianni Infantino, an Italian who was previously UEFA secretary general under Platini, took over as FIFA president.

AFP

Football Ban: Swiss Supreme Court Rejects Platini’s Appeal

PlatiniSwitzerland’s Supreme Court has rejected former UEFA president, Michel Platini’s bid to overturn his four-year ban from the sport over ethics violations.

The court confirmed a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling in 2016 that upheld Platini’s ban.

The ruling stems from a $2.08million payment the French football legend received from FIFA in 2011.

Platini, who has denied wrongdoing, was banned along with Sepp Blatter, the former FIFA president who approved the payment.

FIFA: Eight-year Ban For Sepp Blatter And Michel Platini

FifaThe President of FIFA, Sepp Blatter and UEFA boss, Michel Platini, have been suspended for eight years from all football-related activities following an ethics investigation.

They were found guilty of breaches surrounding a $2 million “disloyal payment” made to Platini in 2011.

The FIFA ethics committee said that Blatter and Platini had demonstrated an “abusive execution” of their positions.

Addressing a news conference after the decision was reached, Blatter, 79, said: “I will fight for me and for FIFA”.

The BBC quoted Platini as saying that the decision was a “masquerade” intended to “dirty” his name.

Both men continue to deny wrongdoing and intend to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Swiss Blatter and 60-year-old Frenchman Platini have also been fined $40,000 and $80,000 respectively.

FIFA boss since 1998, Blatter had already announced he was quitting with a presidential election in February.

Platini was tipped as a future leader of football’s world governing body and is a three-time European Footballer of the Year.

He is also a former captain of France and has been in charge of Uefa – European football’s governing body – since 2007.

Blatter was in defiant mood at a news conference he had called in advance of the punishments being made public.