Ex-FIFA officials Blatter and Platini go on trial in Switzerland for corruption

After more than six years of criminal proceedings in Switzerland, former FIFA officials Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini have gone on trial for alleged corruption.

If found guilty, the two men face up to five years in prison, but their sentences are more likely to be suspended.

In June 2015, Blatter’s 17-year tenure as FIFA president came to an end when he resigned amid a corruption scandal.

A few months later, Swiss federal prosecutors revealed their investigation into FIFA’s payment to Platini in 2011 of 2 million Swiss francs (€1.98 million).

The payment was made without a legal basis, according to Swiss prosecutors, “damaging FIFA’s assets and unlawfully enriching Platini.”

Both men were banned from football by FIFA’s ethics committee, effectively ending Platini’s bid to succeed his former mentor and removing him as UEFA president.

Both men have denied any wrongdoing for years, claiming they had a verbal agreement for the money in exchange for Platini’s consulting work between 1998 and 2002.

On Wednesday, Blatter was seen smiling as he entered the Swiss Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona.

When asked if he was confident in his chances, he responded, “Absolutely, absolutely, absolutely.”

“Like always, I’m optimistic…” That would be bad if I didn’t have confidence on the first day. “I’m quite certain.”

“I am football.” I’ve been a FIFA and international soccer official for 45 years. It’s also my personal and professional life,” Blatter added.

The 86-year-old was scheduled to testify in court on Wednesday but was forced to postpone his appearance due to chest pains.

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Blatter is accused of fraud, mismanagement, misappropriation of funds, and forgery of a document, while Platini is accused of fraud, misappropriation, forgery, and being an accomplice to Blatter’s alleged mismanagement.

The lawyers for the suspects have attempted to broaden the scope of the investigation to include alleged corruption involving FIFA’s current president, Gianni Infantino. Any link between the two cases has been dismissed as a “conspiracy theory” by prosecutors.

The two-week trial is set to last until June 22, with a decision expected on July 8.

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