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Blatter and Platini charged with fraud after six years of investigation into corruption at FIFA

Blatter and Platini charged with fraud after six years of investigation into corruption at FIFA

GENEVA – Swiss prosecutors on Tuesday indicted former FIFA officials Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini with fraud and other crimes after a six-year investigation into a controversial $2 million payment.

Blatter, 85, and Platini, 65, will now face trial in a few months in federal criminal court in Bellinzona.

“These payments damaged FIFA’s assets and unlawfully affected Platini,” Swiss federal prosecutors said in a statement.

The September 2015 case ousted Blatter ahead of schedule as FIFA president and ended then-UEFA president Platini’s campaign to succeed his former mentor.

Swiss cases often take years to reach a conclusion.

The case centers on Platini’s written request to FIFA in January 2011 for a retroactive supplemental salary to serve as presidential advisor in Blatter’s first term from 1998 to 2002.

Blatter authorized FIFA to pay the amount within a few weeks. He was preparing to campaign for re-election in a race against Qatari Mohammed bin Hammam, where Platini’s influence on European voters was a major factor.

Both Blatter and Platini denied any wrongdoing, citing a verbal agreement reached, more than 20 years ago, in order to pay the money.

Blatter has been accused of fraud, mismanagement, embezzlement of FIFA funds and document falsification. Platini has been charged with fraud, embezzlement, forgery and as interference in the alleged mismanagement of Blatter.

Platini, the great French footballer, was not subject to an official investigation until last year, and months later the most serious fraud accusation was listed against both.

Prosecutors had opened criminal proceedings against Blatter in September 2015 before the police raided the FIFA headquarters in Zurich on the day he and Platini attended a meeting of the football body’s executive committee.

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