Tue. May 17th, 2022

BBC

Former Fifa officials Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini have been charged with fraud and other offences in Switzerland.

Swiss prosecutors say Mr Blatter unlawfully arranged a transfer of two million Swiss francs ($2.19m; £1.6m) to Mr Platini in 2011.

Prosecutors say the payment “damaged Fifa’s assets and unlawfully enriched Platini”.

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

The case was opened in September 2015 after Fifa, football’s world governing body, 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 Mr Blatter’s 17-year spell in charge of Fifa and then-Uefa president Mr Platini’s campaign to succeed his former mentor.

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

The Swiss case centres on a request for payment for advisory work Mr Platini did for the then-Fifa president Mr Blatter between 1998 and 2002.

Prosecutors said Mr Platini demanded the payment “over eight years after the termination of his advisory activity”. “With Blatter’s involvement, Fifa made a payment to Platini in said amount at the beginning of 2011,” the prosecutors said.

They said Mr Blatter and Mr Plantini have both been accused of fraud, misappropriation, criminal mismanagement and forgery of a document.

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

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

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

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

By Nwosu Chizoba David

Nwosu Chizoba David is a soccer lover and writer. He is a graduate of Biological Sciences, presently teaching in a secondary in Lagos.

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