Blatter, Platini acquitted of corruption charges in FIFA case

A Swiss court on Friday acquitted former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and France’s Michel Platini of corruption charges.

Blatter, who has led FIFA for 17 years, has been acquitted by a federal criminal court in the southern city of Belinzona. Platini, the former captain and manager of the French national team, was also acquitted of the fraud.

Prosecutors allege that Blatter and Platini illegally arranged for FIFA to pay two million Swiss francs ($ 2.06 million) to a Frenchman in 2011. Prosecutors had told the court that both men should be sentenced to 20 months in prison and forced to return to Zurich. FIFA based 2.23 million Swiss francs.

The lawsuit alleges that Blatter ended his career as FIFA president in disgrace, and that his post-Platini hopes were dashed when the case came to light and he was banned from football. In 1998, when Blatter, 86, asked Platini to become his technical adviser, he said two million francs had been paid to the couple “on gentleman’s terms.”

Mr Blatter told the court that Platini, 67, worked as a consultant on an annual salary of 300,000 Swiss francs between 1998 and 2002 – at which time FIFA was the cheapest because of the organization’s financial difficulties. Mr Blatter said the remaining one million Platini anniversaries would be settled at a later date.

“I would like to express my happiness to all my loved ones that after seven years of lying and manipulation, justice has finally been done,” Platini said in a statement.

The truth came out during this test, he said. “I kept saying: My fight is against injustice. I won the first game. ”

The motive for the alleged payment was unclear, although the two met in 2010 and discussed the upcoming election for FIFA presidency in 2011. When Blatter approved the payment, he was campaigning against Qatar’s Mohammed bin Hammam for re-election. Platini, then president of the European Soccer Association UEFA, was seen influencing European members who could influence the vote.

Prosecutors said a verbal agreement to pay Platini two million francs later for his advisory work did not exist and was described as a “discovery”. The payments came after the U.S. Department of Justice launched a major investigation into FIFA bribery, fraud and money-laundering in 2015, prompting Blatter to resign.

Both officials were banned from football for eight years in 2015 for payments, although their bans were later reduced.

Platini, who lost his job as UEFA president after the ban, said the issue was a deliberate attempt to thwart his bid to become FIFA president in 2015.

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