Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini found not guilty following fraud trial
Former Fifa president Sepp Blatter and vice-president Michel Platini have both been found not guilty following their fraud trial.
The pair stood trial over a payment of 2m Swiss francs (£1.6m) made by Blatter to Platini in 2011.
Both men had denied wrongdoing and said the transfer was belated payment for Platini’s advisory work for Fifa.
On his arrival at the court on Friday, Blatter said: “I am not innocent in my life but in this case I am innocent.”
Blatter, 86, and Platini, 67, were banned from football in 2015 and indicted last November.
Their 11-day trial over the 2011 payment took place at the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona, Switzerland and concluded on 22 June.
In his testimony, Blatter said he asked Platini to be his adviser when he was first appointed president of football’s world governing body in 1998.
He said former France captain Platini wanted 1m Swiss francs (£816,030) per year, but Blatter told him Fifa could not afford that fee.
They instead settled on 300,000 Swiss francs (£244,809) per year, with the outstanding total to be paid at a later date.
“I knew when we started with Michel Platini that is not the total, and we would look at it later,” Blatter had told the court during the trial, adding they shook hands on their “gentleman’s agreement”.
He added: “It was an agreement between two sportsmen. I found nothing wrong with that.”
Three-time Ballon d’Or winner Platini said: “I trusted the president and knew he would pay me one day.”
Platini stopped working for Fifa in 2002 but did not pursue the payment until 2010, telling the court he had not needed the money at the time of his departure, when – according to Blatter – Fifa was in any case “broke”.
However, Platini later heard that two former employees had received substantial payments and approached Fifa, who he said told him to send an invoice. He did so in January 2011, with the money paid 10 days later after approval by Blatter.
The Swiss Office of the Attorney General accused Blatter and Platini of “fraud, in the alternative of misappropriation, in the further alternative of criminal mismanagement as well as of forgery of a document”.
Platini, who was also charged as an accomplice, said he felt the ban was a deliberate attempt to stop him from becoming Fifa president in 2015.
Source: BBC SPORTS