August 28 – Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, speaking ahead of his Swiss judicial hearing next week says that the whole case was cooked up to prevent former UEFA president Michel Platini taking the FIFA presidency. Blatter is facing charges of “suspicion of unfair management and breach of trust” regarding a CHF2 million payment to Platini.
Speaking to the Europe1 radio station, Blatter said that the truth behind this case was that it was never about him or the allegations, but was a conspiracy to keep Platini out.
“The number 1 target of the plot was Michel Platini, not me,” he said. “The one who could be dangerous for the current president (Gianni Infantino), who was at UEFA, was not me, because I had made my mandate available.”
Although not saying it, Blatter appears to be suggesting the plot was instigated at the secret and undocumented meetings that Infantino had with disgraced Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber. The first of those meetings was in 2015, before Infantino was elected FIFA president in 2016. That meeting was always believed to be about whether Infantino was under investigation after his name came up in the Panama Papers US tax evasion scandal, regarding a TV rights deal in South America with Hugo and Mariano Jinkis who had been indicted by the US Department of Justice as part of the FIFAGate scandal.
Blatter’s implication is that the meeting was used to put in play a plan that would nail Platini’s football administration coffin shut with the CHF2 million case.
Blatter and Platini were suspended in the winter of 2015 for 90 days after the Swiss prosecutors opened an investigation into the CHF 2 million payment. Blatter was suspended for six years and Michel Platini for four years by FIFA Ethics. Removing Platini from what would have been a shoo-in to the FIFA presidency opened the door for Infantino, Platini’s general secretary at UEFA who also said he was only a placeholder for Platini but in reality showed no intention of stepping aside – either then or now that Platini has served his ban.
Blatter says that is not worried about the outcome of the court hearing. “I am not afraid of anything, the court is not there yet. For the moment we are doing hearings. I should do something very hard to go to jail. Now is not the time to be thinking about going to jail, for the moment I am thinking of enjoying life a little and taking care of football a bit more,” he told Europe 1.
While the relationship between Platini and Blatter had become fractious, Blatter said that: “Today I would hug him, despite the coronavirus restrictions…I would say bravo Michel … now we are in court for the investigations, now we are together. In 2007 we were even more together as I gave you a small step (up) for the presidency of UEFA.”
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