• Babajide EverBlazin

Football Corruption: Blatter, Platini to face trial

Former Presidents of FIFA and UEFA, Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini will both appear in a swiss court on Wednesday to face corruption charges which kick-started their end from the peak of global football administration. Recall that the pair had been accused once of unlawfully arranging a payment of two million Swiss francs ($2.08 million) in 2011 from FIFA to Platini. The case ensured that Blatter's 17-year reign as FIFA supremo ended in disgrace and torpedoed hopes by former France midfielder Platini of succeeding him. The three-time European footballer of the year had been favourite to replace Blatter after the Swiss administrator quit in the wake of the huge corruption scandal which engulfed FIFA in 2015. Instead, Platini's former general secretary at UEFA, Gianni Infantino, entered the FIFA race and won the election in 2016. It is one of 25 investigations by the Swiss Office of the Attorney General (OAG) into corruption in football, with some 12 still pending. Following a six-year investigation, the OAG accused Blatter, 86, of "fraud, in the alternative of misappropriation, in the further alternative of criminal mismanagement as well as of forgery of a document". While 66 year old Platini is accused of fraud, misappropriation, participating in criminal mismanagement as an accomplice, and forgery of a document. Blatter and Platini, who were once close associates but are now bitter enemies, have both denied wrongdoing. They say they had a verbal agreement over the payment, which related to consultancy work by Platini between 1998 and 2002.

FIFA's Ethics Committee banned Blatter and Platini from football in 2015, initially for eight years, although this was later reduced. The committee said the transaction, made when Blatter was seeking re-election, lacked transparency and presented a conflict of interest. When Blatter approved the payment, he was campaigning for re-election against Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar. Platini, as president of European soccer association UEFA, was seen as having sway with European members who could influence the vote. Platini, who captained France to victory in the 1984 European Championships, was forced to quit UEFA in 2016 after losing his appeal against his ban. He also lost his appeal at the European Court of Human Rights. Three judges at the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona, will hear the case in the trial which runs until June 22. A verdict is due on July 8. If convicted, Platini and Blatter face up to five years in jail.

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