Sunday, January 23, 2022

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Blatter, Platini charged with Fraud

Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and erstwhile UEFA chief Michel Platini have been charged with fraud and in Switzerland.

Swiss prosecutors say Blatter unlawfully arranged a transfer of two million Swiss francs ($2.19m; £1.6m) to Platini in 2011, insisting the payment “damaged FIFA’s assets and unlawfully enriched Platini”.

Blatter and Platini now face trial at a court in Bellinzona.

The case was opened in September 2015 after FIFA was dogged by accusations of widespread corruption.

FIFA’s ethics committee launched an investigation, which saw both men banned from the game and forced to leave their positions.

The affair ended Blatter’s 17-year spell in charge of FIFA and then-UEFA president Platini’s campaign to succeed his former mentor.

Both Blatter, 85, and Platini, 66, have denied any wrongdoing.

On Tuesday Platini’s Swiss lawyer, Dominic Nellen, told the BBC his client “categorically denies the untrue accusations”.

Nellen said it was “clear that the investigation should have been discontinued long ago”.

“There are enough witness reports and documents in the case files that prove my client’s innocence,” the lawyer said. “I am 100% confident that we will be able to prove my client’s innocence in court.”

In his own statement, Blatter said he looked forward to the trial and hoped “this story will come to an end”.

He said the payment to Platini was based on a verbal agreement and had been delayed because FIFA was not able to pay the entire amount at the time.

Blatter said the payment had been approved by “all responsible Fifa bodies” and that Platini had paid tax on the amount “at his Swiss place of residence”.

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