Swiss prosecutors accuse former FIFA officials Blatter and Platini of fraud

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Former FIFA officials Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini were charged Tuesday with fraud and other offenses by Swiss prosecutors after a six-year investigation into a controversial $ 2 million payment.

Blatter, 85, and Platini, 65, are now to be tried in a few months in federal criminal court in Bellinzona.

“This payment damaged FIFA’s assets and illegally enriched Platini,” Swiss federal prosecutors said in a statement.

The September 2015 affair ousted Blatter earlier than expected as FIFA president and ended UEFA President Platini’s campaign to succeed his former mentor.

Swiss affairs often take years to complete.

The case centers on Platini’s written request to FIFA in January 2011 to receive additional backdated salary for working as a presidential adviser during Blatter’s first term, from 1998 to 2002.

Blatter authorized FIFA to make the payment within weeks. He was preparing to campaign for re-election in a contest against Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar, where Platini’s influence with European voters was a key factor.

Blatter and Platini have long denied wrongdoing and cited a verbal agreement they made, more than 20 years ago, for the money to be paid.

Blatter has been charged with fraud, mismanagement, embezzlement of FIFA funds and document forgery. Platini has been charged with fraud, embezzlement, forgery and aiding and abetting Blatter’s alleged mismanagement.

Platini, a great French footballer, was only formally investigated last year, and months later the most serious fraud allegation was made against the two men.

Prosecutors opened criminal proceedings against Blatter in September 2015 before a police raid on FIFA headquarters in Zurich on the day he and Platini attended a meeting of the football body’s executive committee.

(PA)

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