• Babajide EverBlazin

Court clears Blatter and Platini from corruption case

Both former presidents of FIFA and UEFA, Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini have been cleared of corruption charges by a Swiss court on Friday.


Blatter, a former president of the world football governing body for 17 years was cleared of fraud and corruption by the Federal Criminal Court in the southern city of Bellinzona.


While Platini a French football legend and manager was also completely discharged from fraud allegations.


Prosecutors had accused Blatter and Platini of unlawfully arranging for FIFA to pay the Frenchman two million Swiss francs ($2.06 million) in 2011.


The case meant Blatter ended his reign as FIFA president in disgrace and it wrecked Platini's hopes of succeeding him after he was banned from football when the affair came to light.


Blatter, 86, had said the two-million franc payment followed a "gentlemen's agreement" between the pair when he asked Platini to be his technical adviser in 1998.


Platini, 67, worked as a consultant between 1998 and 2002 with an annual salary of 300,000 Swiss francs - the most FIFA could afford because of money troubles the organisation had at the time, Blatter has told the court.


The rest of Platini's one million per year salary was to be settled at a later date, Blatter said.


The senior judge, Josephine Contu Albrizio, said a verbal agreement between Blatter and Platini seemed credible, as did the Frenchman's seeing his market value at 1 million per year due to his status in the game.


It also seemed implausible that Platini would have worked only on the basis of written contract that paid him such a paltry sum, the judge told the court.


The two, once among the most powerful figures in global soccer, had denied the charges against them. On Friday they joked and shook hands before the judgment and looked relieved as the verdict was read out.


Platini described his joy after the acquittal, saying the allegations had turned him from a legend of world soccer to a "devil".


"I want to express my happiness to all my loved ones that justice has finally been done after seven years of lies and manipulation," Platini said in a statement.


"The truth has come to light during this trial," he added. "I kept saying it: my fight is a fight against injustice. I won a first game."


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