Office of the Attorney General (OAG) issued a statement on Tuesday to say former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and former UEFA president Michel Platini have been indicted over 2m Swiss Francs payment
Tuesday 2 November 2021 21:19, UK
Former FIFA officials Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini were charged with fraud and other offences by Swiss prosecutors on Tuesday after a six-year investigation into a controversial £1.6m payment.
The 85-year-old Blatter and 66-year-old Platini now face a trial within months at federal criminal court in Bellinzona.
This payment damaged FIFAs assets and unlawfully enriched Platini, Swiss federal prosecutors said in a statement.
The case was opened in September 2015 and ousted Blatter ahead of schedule as FIFA president. It also ended then-UEFA president Platini's campaign to succeed his former mentor.
Swiss cases often take years to reach a conclusion.
The case centres on Platini's 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 to 2002.
Blatter authorised FIFA to make the payment within weeks. 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 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, prosecutors said.
Both Blatter and Platini have long denied wrongdoing and cited a verbal agreement they had made, now more than 20 years ago, for the money to be paid.
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.
Platini was not placed under formal investigation until last year, and months later the more serious allegation of fraud was included against both men.
Prosecutors had opened criminal proceedings against Blatter in September 2015 ahead of a police raid at FIFA headquarters in Zurich on the day he and Platini attended a meeting of the football body's executive committee.
That came four months after a sweeping US Department of Justice corruption investigation into world football was revealed with early-morning arrests of officials from the Americas at luxury hotels in Zurich.
In the fallout of those May 2015 hotel raids, and only days after being elected FIFA president for a fifth time, Blatter announced his plan to resign and call another vote to find a successor.
Platini had long been the expected FIFA heir but his campaign was derailed by the police visit to FIFA's offices even though he was not yet a suspect.
The FIFA ethics committee soon suspended both men for several weeks before banning each for six years.
Platini's ban was later reduced to four years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on appeal, and he was cleared to return to football duty in October 2019. He had been linked to seeking a seat on the executive board of FIFPRO, the global group of player unions.
Blatter has been in poor health and a final round of questioning by Swiss investigators was delayed until August.
After undergoing heart surgery last December, Blatter spent a week in an induced coma.
Blatter also faces a separate criminal proceeding related to authorising a $1m (£734,000) FIFA payment to Trinidad and Tobago in 2010 into the control of then-FIFA vice-president Jack Warner. Two former FIFA officials are also suspects in that investigation.
A FIFA spokesperson said the governing body has noted the decision by Switzerland's Office of the Attorney General and re-affirmed there were no written records for the exchange of CHF 2 million.
They went on to add: "As previously announced, FIFA has already taken steps in the Swiss courts to recover this sum from both individuals as it considers the money to have been illicitly paid by one to the other. If and when the funds are successfully recovered, they will be channelled back into football development, as they should have been in the first place.
"The decision of the Office of the Attorney General comes after an investigation into the matter by the Swiss authorities that has, to date, lasted approximately six years.
"Both Mr Blatter and Mr Platini were banned from football in 2015 in connection with this payment and that ban was upheld in the Court of Arbitration for Sport and by the Swiss Federal Tribunal. In 2020, the European Court of Human Rights unanimously declared Mr Platini's application inadmissible.
"FIFA will closely follow next steps taken in this matter."