Zurich (Switzerland), July 8 (IANS) Former presidents of FIFA and UEFA Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini were cleared of corruption charges by a Swiss court on Friday.
The two men, Platini, former UEFA president, and Blatter, who led FIFA for 17 years, were cleared of fraud by the Federal Criminal Court in the southern city of Bellinzona. Both the administrators have, once among the most powerful figures in world football, had denied the charges against them.
The powerful administrators of world football were acquitted of illegally arranging a two million Swiss francs payment in 2011 when Blatter was the FIFA president and Platini was the vice-president of the global governing body.
The case meant Blatter ended his reign as FIFA president in disgrace and it wrecked Platini’s hopes of succeeding him after he was banned from football when the affair came to light.
Blatter had said the payment followed a “gentlemen’s agreement” between the pair when he asked Platini to be his technical advisor in 1998.
Platini, who also lost his job as UEFA president following the ban, had said the affair was a deliberate attempt to thwart his attempt to become FIFA president in 2015.
Speaking following the verdict, Platini said, “I want to express my happiness for all my loved ones that justice has finally been done after seven years of lies and manipulation.”
“My fight is a fight against injustice. I won the first game. In this case, there are culprits who did not appear during this trial. Let them count on me, we will meet again. Because I will not give up and I will go all the way in my quest for truth, Platini was quoted as saying by Skysports.
“Believe me, going from being a legend of world soccer to a devil is very difficult, especially when it comes to you in a totally unfair way.”
A statement from the Swiss Attorney General’s Office in response to the verdict said,
“The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) has taken note of the decision of the Criminal Chamber of the Federal Criminal Court. Once the Court has issued the written reasoning of its decision, the OAG will decide about how to proceed further.”