Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, former presidents of FIFA and UEFA, respectively, were indicted for fraud in Switzerland on Tuesday, according to the country’s attorney general.
The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) accuses both men of unlawfully arranging a payment of 2 million Swiss Francs (current value US $2.19 million) from FIFA to Platini.
The attorney general laid out the alleged offenses in an online statement, which said that “between 1998 and 2002, Michel Platini worked as a consultant for the then FIFA President Joseph Blatter.
“In 1999, an annual compensation of CHF 300,000 [current value US $328,000] was agreed upon in a written contract for this advisory activity. This written contract was signed by both Blatter and Platini. The compensation agreed in accordance with this contract was invoiced by Platini on each occasion and paid in full by FIFA.”
However, in 2011, more than eight years after his advisory contract ended, “Platini demanded a payment in the amount of CHF 2 million. With Blatter’s involvement, FIFA made a payment to Platini in said amount at the beginning of 2011.
“The evidence gathered by the OAG has corroborated that this payment to Platini was made without a legal basis. This payment damaged FIFA’s assets and unlawfully enriched Platini,” the statement says.
Blatter: ‘I hope that this story will come to an end’
Blatter, 85, has been accused by the OAG of fraud, mismanagement, misappropriation and the forgery of a document. Platini, 66, is accused of fraud, participating in misappropriation, participating in mismanagement, as an accomplice and the forgery of a document.
In a statement to CNN on Tuesday, Blatter said: “I look forward to the trial before the Federal Criminal Court with optimism and I hope that this story will come to an end and that all the facts will be dealt with properly.”
“Regarding the payment of the sum of two million francs from FIFA to Michel Platini, I can only repeat myself: It was based on an oral contract that regulated Platini’s advisory activities for FIFA between 1998 and 2002,” he added.
Blatter said the payment to Platini was “approved by all responsible FIFA bodies” and that Platini “paid tax on the amount at his Swiss place of residence.”
Platini said in a statement to CNN that the decision by the Swiss Public Prosecutor’s Office (MPC) to indict him was “an extension of the MPC’s relentlessness to want to unduly implicate me in a case in which my entire good faith had been recognized.”
“I fully challenge these unfounded and unfair accusations,” he added.
FIFA: ‘There are no written records of any such agreement’
“This decision relates to a sum of CHF two million which Mr Blatter authorised to be paid to Mr Platini in February 2011,” a FIFA spokesperson said in a statement to CNN.
“The payment was made shortly before the FIFA Presidential election in 2011 at which time Mr Blatter was elected for a fourth consecutive term as FIFA President. The sum of CHF two million was supposedly due to be paid for work carried out by Mr Platini more than 10 years before. There are no written records of any such agreement,” they added.
“As previously announced, FIFA has already taken steps in the Swiss courts to recover this sum from both individuals as it considers the money to have been illicitly paid by one to the other. If and when the funds are successfully recovered, they will be channelled back into football development, as they should have been in the first place.
“The decision of the Office of the Attorney General comes after an investigation into the matter by the Swiss authorities that has, to date, lasted approximately 6 years. Both Mr Blatter and Mr Platini were banned from football in 2015 in connection with this payment and that ban was upheld both in the Court of Arbitration for Sport and by the Swiss Federal Tribunal.
“In 2020, the European Court of Human Rights unanimously declared Mr Platini’s application inadmissible. FIFA will closely follow next steps taken in this matter.”
UEFA declined CNN’s request for comment.