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14 Aug 2022

Former football leaders cleared of fraud

Former football leaders cleared of fraud

Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, formerly two of the most powerful men in world football, have been acquitted on fraud charges in the Swiss federal criminal court.

Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, formerly two of the most powerful men in world football, have been acquitted on fraud charges in the Swiss federal criminal court.

The verdict on former UEFA president Platini and ex-FIFA president Sepp Blatter was handed down in Bellinzona on Friday.

The two men had been charged by prosecutors last November following a six-year investigation into a two million Swiss francs (£1.7m) payment to Platini in 2011. Prosecutors alleged this payment from FIFA, authorised by Blatter, had been “made without legal basis”.

However, both men have been acquitted.

“My client’s full acquittal is the only correct outcome of these criminal proceedings,” Platini’s lawyer Dominic Nellen said in a statement.

Nellen added: “The court has properly assessed the evidence and finally put an end to this unspeakable criminal proceeding.

“A neutral court has finally found that no wrongdoing was committed in this case. My client is completely cleared and relieved accordingly.”

The case which culminated in the charges issued in November last year was launched by prosecutors in 2015, effectively terminating Blatter’s FIFA presidency ahead of schedule, and leading to Platini, then president of UEFA, withdrawing from the race to be his successor.

Both faced separate FIFA ethics committee investigations and were banned from football for eight years, reduced to six on appeal.

Platini added: “I wanted to express my happiness for all my loved ones that justice has finally been done after seven years of lies and manipulation.

“The truth has come to light during this trial and I deeply thank the judges of the tribunal for the independence of their decision.

“I kept saying it – my fight is a fight against injustice. I won a 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.

“Despite the length of the procedure, I have always had confidence in the Swiss legal system and the rule of law that prevails here.

“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.

“But before I think about the future, I would like to thank my family and my close friends, my lawyers who have so brilliantly assisted and encouraged me throughout my ordeal, and above all all the people I have met during all these years for their affectionate looks and their gestures so strongly marked by support and sympathy towards me.”

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