October 7 – FIFA president Sepp Blatter and former UEFA president Michel Platini will go before a Swiss court to decide their case concerning the CHF2 million ‘disloyal payment’ made by FIFA to Platini in 2010.
Having completed his investigation, federal prosecutor Thomas Hildebrand has notified Blatter and Platini that criminal charges will be pressed, with a court date likely in the next six months.
The payment to Platini was made on the instruction of Blatter and covered a verbal agreement between the two for consultancy by Platini. It was the second half of a payment for work that had been done 10 years earlier but payment was made just a few months before Blatter was re-elected to the FIFA presidency in 2011.
Platini had been expected to stand in that election but in the end didn’t run for office.
Both Blatter and Platini claim they have done nothing wrong. Indeed, Blatter makes the point that it was money owed and was never a secret payment as it was reported to the Swiss tax authorities and social security was deducted from the payment.
Blatter, 85, underwent heart surgery in December that delayed the investigation. Final interviews were only completed in August.
Blatter will be prosecuted for “suspicion of fraud, breach of trust, forgery of titles and unfair management.” Platini faces charges of “suspicion of fraud, participation in breach of trust, participation in unfair management and forgery in securities”.
The cases, though linked, will be heard separately by panels of three to five judges (there is no jury system in Switzerland) and could result in custodial sentences, though that looks unlikely. Much Swiss legal opinion feels that it is a difficult case to prove though such is the sensitivity around the Swiss justice system’s handling of the FIFA scandals, it is also a difficult case to sweep under the carpet, despite the time lapses.
FIFA’s current president, Gianni Infantino is also under criminal investigation for interfering with a Swiss judicial investigation, though that case increasingly looks like it will be swept under the carpet.
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