Bellinzona (AFP) – Michel Platini has become emotional. Shortly after Sepp Blatter vehemently denied the allegations in the joint operation, the accused former UEFA president leaned forward in his gray chair.
“What FIFA did to their president and I is scandalous. I was called an account forger and money laundering,” said the 66-year-old Frenchman. “The goal was for everyone to know that I shouldn’t become FIFA president. There is justice in life and I hope it will come true.”
On the second day of the trial before the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona, Switzerland, two former top football officials were questioned for the first time. They complained of media bias and handling of global engagement with them. “I will not answer FIFA’s questions because the FIFA president has not answered me since March 2016,” Blatter replied, referring to Gianni Infantino, a FIFA representative who is a special prosecutor in the case.
Blatter: “Wages are late”
At the heart of the fraud allegation, FIFA paid two million Swiss francs to Platini’s ex-adviser Platini in 2011. According to the indictment, Blatter is said to have illegally confirmed this in addition to social security contributions. “It’s overdue,” Blatter said. This went through all the necessary committees in the World Federation.
Blatter reported that after being elected president of FIFA in 1998, he agreed to work with Platini. He said to him: “I am in a million,” in what currency? “I told him for fun, the peseta, the ruble or the mark, you decide,” Platini reported.
A contract dating back to the beginning of the year was approved in August 1999, but only with a salary of 300,000 Swiss francs. When Platini indicated that this was not the full agreed amount, he said, “We’ll see that later,” Blatter recalls. In 2011, Platini billed the amount. Why are you so late? “It wasn’t vital for me,” Platini said of the push. Why 800,000 francs less than agreed? The former European champion replied with a laugh: “It’s me.” “I was wrong.”
Blatter and Platini complain about bias
Platini sat in the second row and crossed his arms as Blatter witnessed. A day after postponing the questioning of the 86-year-old due to health issues, he continued to move his hands across the table as he spoke.
Blatter remembers that the attorney general’s first investigation in 2015 into the allegations shocked him. “This trauma has been going on for seven years now, and this trauma is still there.” At that time he had already received the “maximum sentence” and was the “outlaw” of the world. “The media has given me a criminal record,” Blatter said.
When the push was announced seven years ago, Platini’s ambitions to succeed Blatter faded. “In 2015 I was a candidate for FIFA,” said the Frenchman. “It’s unbelievable that it will come at this point.” Platini was replaced by former UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino as the new FIFA President in 2016.
A verdict is expected on July 8.
The purpose of the questioning of the former chief prosecutor of the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, Olivier Thurman, was to clarify, among other things, where the investigators discovered the $2 million payment. Thurman stated that the information was obtained from then-FIFA chief financial officer Marcus Kattner during research at FIFA in the wake of the 2015 scandal, along with pay data for the then Executive Committee. More testimony is scheduled for Friday, the third of the eleven days of the hearing. A verdict is expected on July 8.