Swiss authorities indict former FIFA officials on fraud charge over $2M payment

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Nov. 2 (UPI) — Swiss authorities indicted Tuesday former FIFA officials Joseph “Sepp” Blatter and Michel Platini on fraud charges tied to a $2 million payment in 2011.

Prosecutors have accused both of them of “unlawfully arranging” a $2 million payment from the soccer’s international governing body to Platini, now 66, in 2011, according to a statement Tuesday.

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Blatter, now 85, unlawfully arranged a $2 million payment from FIFA to Platini in 2011, who was then head of European soccer’s governing body, UEFA, according to the statement.

“This payment to Platini was made without a legal basis,” prosecutors said in the statement. “This payment damaged FIFA’s assets and unlawfully enriched Platini.”

Blatter faces criminal charges of fraud, criminal mismanagement and forgery, and Platini faces charges of fraud, and participating in misappropriation and criminal mismanagement, following the Swiss Office of Attorney General’s years-long investigation into the 2011 payment.

The pair now face trial at a court in Bellinzona, and if found guilty could receive prison sentences of several years or fines, the BBC reported.

Prosecutors noted that between 1998-2002, Platini worked as a consultant for then-FIFA President Blatter, then over eight years after the “termination of his advisory activity,” Platini demanded the $2 million payment.

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Blatter, who has been hospitalized several times since he was suspended from his leadership position in FIFA more than six years ago, has defended the payment as a belated payment for Platini’s work for him, The New York Times reported.

“The operation was correct as a late wage payment,” Blatter told the Times.

Platini’s lawyer Dominic Nellen told the BBC his client “categorically denies the untrue accusations.”

“I am 100% confident that we will be able to prove my client’s innocence in court,” Nellen added.

Blatter served as FIFA president from 1998 to 2015, when he was suspended for 90 days in October of that year amid the investigation into the $2 million payment. Later that same year, Blatter was banned from soccer for eight years over ethics violations that centered around him being found guilty of violating FIFA’s ethics rules in approving the $2 million payment to Platin.

The FIFA World Cup is one of the most-watched international sports events across the globe, along with the Summer Olympics.

Swiss authorities opened the criminal investigation into the 2011 payment in 2015, the same year the United States and Switzerland announced investigations into widespread corruption by top soccer officials spanning two decades.

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