Prosecutors have demanded a 20-month imprisonment for former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and vice president Michel Platini over the financial fraud they committed during their tenure. Initially, they were facing a prison sentence of five years, but the prosecutors decided to reduce the term. The final verdict will be announced next month.
Blatter and Platini used to be two of the most powerful persons in global soccer before numerous charges of forgery and misappropriation of funds brought their premature downfall. Sepp Blatter has a long history of committing financial fraud. The main accusation against him is for illegally arranging £1.6m to Platini.
After he was elected as the FIFS president for the first time in 1998, Blatter appointed Platini as his advisor, and as per the contract, the latter would be paid 300,000 francs per year. Nine years later, an invoice of £1.6m was cleared by Blatter.
Prosecutor Thomas Hildbrand argued that there was no provision for outstanding charges in the legal contract. “The evidence gathered by the OAG has corroborated that this payment to Platini was made without a legal basis,” said Hildbrand. “This payment damaged FIFA’s assets and unlawfully enriched Platini.”
Both have denied any wrongdoings, claiming it was a “gentleman agreement” between two sportsmen. Blatter also told that he couldn’t pay for the service earlier because the organisation was not doing well financially around 2002. However, the prosecutors rubbished this claim, stating that FIFA’s finance was in good shape, with over 327m francs kept in reserve.
Earlier this month, the trial had to be delayed after Blatter failed to reach the court on the first day. “The pain will come back and I am having difficulty breathing,” said the 85-year-old.
The duo is convinced that they did nothing wrong. Platini, the three-time Ballon d’Or winner, said: “We will prove in court that I acted with the utmost honesty, that the payment of the remaining salary was due to me by FIFA and is perfectly legal.”
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