The federal public prosecutor is demanding a suspended sentence of one year and eight months for both Joseph Blatter and Michel Platini. The latter must also pay compensation of around 2.2 million francs. The two men are accused of defrauding the football authorities by obtaining an unjustified payment of CHF 2 million for the French.
However, prosecutor Thomas Hildbrand, adamant about the “deception” perpetrated on the defendants in the Bellinzona Federal Criminal Court, refrained from calling for a fixed sentence, while the former leaders, fixated on their July 8 fate, face a basic five-year prison sentence . For five hours he tried to uncover the secret affair that rocked the ex-ally’s careers in 2015, when Platini, then-UEFA president, seemed ideally placed to succeed Blatter at the helm of FIFA.
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“The only thing that matters is their criminal conduct,” the prosecutor immediately reminded, skipping any political dimension to focus on the 2 million Swiss francs awarded to Michel Platini by FIFA in 2011, with Sepp’s confirmation by Blatter .
Blatter, the “chameleon”
It does not matter, therefore, that this file only reappeared in 2015, propelling the unexpected Gianni Infantino, right arm of Michel Platini at UEFA, to the top of world football, who since 2020 has been impeached through a separate procedure for three secret meetings with the word sight was taken. The 66-year-old Frenchman and the 86-year-old Swiss man, heard by the court last Thursday, claimed to have decided “orally” that Platini would be paid one million Swiss francs a year between 1998 and 2002 to advise Blatter, briefly after doing so helped him rise to the top of FIFA.
But that agreement, struck without witnesses, contrary to “business practices” and never shelved in the organisation’s books, was fabricated after the fact to justify the bill presented by the triple Ballon d’Or in 2011, Thomas Hildbrand replied on Wednesday. For him, Platini’s work was fully covered by an August 1999 contract that called for 300,000 Swiss francs a year, with the two men agreeing to pay “the rest later” if FIFA’s finances allowed.
Unbelievable, the magistrate swept: even if the agency had paid 1 million Swiss francs to Platini in 1999, it would still have had “more than 21 million francs in cash,” with reserves rising to 327 million in 2002. Gold Sepp Blatter, who came on FIFA had “perfect knowledge” of his solvency in 1975. “When a chameleon feels threatened, it changes color: Blatter does the same,” said Thomas Hildbrand, for whom “there is no reason why FIFA” should have deferred payment.
Also read: Blatter and Platini work together
The mobile question still open
Another inconsistency in the eyes of the public prosecutor: at the beginning of 2011, Platini demanded 500,000 francs a year instead of 700,000 for this period and explained afterwards that he had never checked the amount originally paid to him. “Did he only lose his math skills when he was billed to FIFA?” the judge pretended to be puzzled, recalling that the Frenchman “passed an arithmetic test without any problems” during his interrogation.
Thomas Hildbrand also pointed out that Jerome Valcke, FIFA’s general secretary in 2011, told investigators Platini had initially demanded 4 million francs before issuing a bill half that amount. “If you go from four to two, it means there was negotiation, an agreement between the parties,” said the judge, making that sum the equivalent of “a personal contribution” by Platini to Blatter.
But what if no motive appears in the indictment? The prosecutor cautiously mentioned the support of the French and the UEFA Executive Committee for Blatter’s re-election for a fourth term in late May 2011. “The question of whether this payment is election-related must remain, in the absence of convincing evidence,” admitted Thomas Hildbrand and left the shadow of corruption hanging over the courtroom.
The process, which started last Wednesday, is scheduled to continue until June 22 with the pleadings of FIFA, the civil party and then the defense.
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