September 1 – The infamous CHF2 million “disloyalty payment” that helped bring down both Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini’ has taken centre stage once again with both former powerbrokers questioned this week by Swiss federal investigators – five years after a judicial case was opened and nine after the alleged offence took place.
Platini, whose ambitions to step up from UEFA president to take over the same role at FIFA were thwarted by the payment which led to lengthy bans for both men, was quizzed on Monday in Bern by prosecutor Thomas Hildbrand. Blatter, who led FIFA for 17 years, was due to be questioned today as part of the same proceedings.
Platini was quizzed for around three hours after which his lawyer Dominic Nellen told AFP: “The questions went very well for my client.”
“He responded to all the questions that the OAG asked him and told how everything went down and what the truth is with the payment of the two million. We are awaiting the deposition of other witnesses in the coming days.
“There is nothing that we fear because they will tell the truth and the prosecutor can see for himself that there’s nothing illegal about that payment.”
Platini, who was UEFA president from January 2007 to December 2015, has long claimed he was the victim of a FIFA conspiracy designed to stop him getting the top job. Neither he nor Blatter has ever been charged.
“After five years, it is quite possible that FIFA will continue to harass me through complaints with the sole aim of keeping me out of football and smearing my reputation,” Platini said back in June.
So determined was the Frenchman to clear his name that he appealed against his initial eight-year suspension at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which reduced it to four years, then the Swiss Federal Court and finally at the European Court of Human Rights. But neither of the latter was prepared to annul the sanction.
Hildbrand questioned Blatter in late July and early August in connection with a separate investigation into television rights contracts issued to the Caribbean Football Union.
Co-incidentally Monday was also the final day in office for outgoing Swiss attorney general Michael Lauber who quit over those undocumented meetings with Gianni Infantino that still cast a shadow over FIFA headquarters in Zurich – regardless of who is in charge. At the end of last week Blatter suggested that Infantino’s first secret and documented meeting with Lauber, before he won the FIFA presidency could have had as one of its agenda points the Platini payment and a plot to remove Platini from football and taking the FIFA lead that he had previously been lined up for.
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