The profiteering at the head of the bodies of world football will take a legal turn in a few weeks. Michel Platini and the ex-president of FIFA Sepp Blatter will appear for fraud from June 8 to 22 in Switzerland, in the case of suspicious payment which has placed them since 2015 on the ban of world football. The 66-year-old Frenchman and the 86-year-old Swiss will also be tried for “unfair management”, “breach of trust” and “false titles” in the same case, the Federal Criminal Court of Bellinzona, in the canton of Bellinzona, said on Tuesday. from Ticino.
After more than six years of a highly publicized investigation, the two allies who have become rivals are accused of having “illegally obtained, at the expense of FIFA, a payment of 2 million Swiss francs” (1.8 million euros) “In favor of Michel Platini”, specifies the court. Targeted one like the other by other procedures, in France for Michel Platini and in Switzerland for Sepp Blatter, they incur five years of imprisonment or a fine if they are found guilty of fraud.
In this part, the first to earn them a trial, the two defendants move towards the epilogue of the affair which shattered their career at the top of world football, at the very moment when Michel Platini seemed ideally placed to take over the presidency. of FIFA. In detail, defense and prosecution agree on one point: the triple Ballon d’Or advised Sepp Blatter well between 1998 and 2002, during the latter’s first term at the head of FIFA, and the two men signed in 1999 a written contract agreeing to an annual remuneration of 300,000 Swiss francs, “invoiced by Mr. Platini and fully paid by FIFA”, according to the prosecution.
But in 2011, “more than eight years after the end of his activity as an adviser”, the ex-captain of the Blues “claimed a claim of 2 million Swiss francs”, paid by the football body “with the competition ”by Sepp Blatter, recalled the prosecution in November. For the prosecution, it is a “baseless” payment, which “damaged the heritage of FIFA and provided Mr. Platini with illegitimate enrichment”.
The two men hammer for their part, since the start of the investigation, that they had orally decided on an annual salary of one million Swiss francs, without FIFA’s finances allowing it at the time. payment to Mr. Platini, and simply settled the balance late.
Sweeping away the idea of a discreet arrangement to hide this sum, Sepp Blatter never ceased to recall that all the competent FIFA bodies had validated the payment, that the body had paid the corresponding pension contributions and that Michel Platini had “paid tax on this amount at his Swiss place of residence”. For the prosecution, it is on the contrary an additional sign that the financial management of FIFA has been fooled by a fictitious invoice.
The hearing should also shed light on the circumstances in which this affair broke out in 2015, four years after the settlement of the two million, in a context marked by the race to succeed Sepp Blatter, after a series of scandals involving South-South officials. American football.
The two defendants have long suspected the current FIFA boss, Gianni Infantino, or his entourage, of having alerted the prosecution to this old transaction: then right arm of Michel Platini at the head of UEFA, the Italian- Switzerland had thwarted all predictions by taking control of world football after the sidelining of its boss. However, Swiss justice has been investigating in parallel since July 2020 the “collusion” of its former chief prosecutor with Gianni Infantino, after three secret meetings between the two men.