By Tony Attwood
I received a note at the end of last week pointing out that Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, who have been under investigation by Swiss authorities for some time, are now suddenly facing a more serious charge of fraud. This comes after Swiss federal prosecutors intensified a five-year investigation into the pair’s past dealings at FIFA this week.
The open criminal proceedings had been focused on suspected mismanagement and misappropriation, plus an act of forgery by Platini, linked to FIFA paying Platini $2 million with Blatter’s approval in 2011.
Naturally I wanted to check the story so I typed into Google “platini and blatter prosecuted for fraud”. Tens of thousands of references came up from all around the world – except in the UK. OK, I didn’t plough through all 24,000 articles on the subject that Google found, but every one I saw in a quick flip through was from overseas news services, with virtually all of them taking their lead from Associated Press.
But nothing from the UK. And why is that? One possible reason is that the English FA has something to hide. I’ve no evidence of that of course, but given the easy ride that the media has given the FA in recent years, and their complete refusal to cover this case, it seems likely.
It is interesting, in the same way that the very funny things going on with refereeing in England are interesting. In that case the rest of the world takes up refereeing issues, but in England we don’t. Odd that.
Anyway, the investigation into Platini and Blatter has been widened to include suspected fraud following the questioning of the two suspects in Bern.
The Swiss attorney general’s office announced that this month, “the federal prosecutors’ office informed the parties that, based on the current investigation it is reassessing part of the proceedings. Since then both Joseph Blatter and Michel Platini are being investigated on suspicion of fraud,” the federal office said in a statement to The Associated Press.
The penalty for fraud is up to five years in prison.
In this case the original charges were filed against Blatter in 2015, and then extended to Platini six months ago. It notes that in January 2011, when Platini was the Uefa president and a Fifa vice president he asked to be paid by Fifa for work done a decade earlier. At that time he was a presidential adviser in Blatter’s first term as Fifa president, from 1998-2002. Platini was then paid by Fifa with Blatter’s approval in February 2011.
However both Blatter and Platini have quoted a verbal agreement for the money since details of the deal were revealed in September 2015, although it seems rather strange that such an arrangement would never be written down.
After that the two Fifa officials were suspended from football and then banned from all footballing activity by the Fifa ethics committee. They took the case to the Court of Arbitration but it refused to overturn their sanctions. Blatter is banned from football until October next year.
Meanwhile Blatter is a suspect in a completely separate Swiss investigation into a $1 million Fifa loan to the Trinidad and Tobago FA which at the time was controlled by Jack Warner, who is now on the run from the USA authorities.
Earlier Platini had to withdraw from his campaign to succeed Blatter as president of Fifa in February 2016, at which point up stepped Gianni Infantino, who won the vote and is now on trial in Switzerland, as we have often reported (but again is ignored in the UK media).
In 2018 Platini was seemingly cleared of suspicion by the Swiss federal prosecution office, but then a separate prosecutor, Thomas Hildbrand, took charge of the case, as the previous prosecutor left under something of a cloud.
A spokesman for Platini said that “Since 2015, Michel Platini has been: witness, assisted witness, officially exonerated by the same MPC in 2018, then suspect interviewed on the basis of suspicions that were raised during the last hearing.”
But the two men are still on trial and potentially face imprisonment if they cannot prove that the money given to Platini was the balance of payment for an advisory job carried out between 1999 and 2002.
Fifa meanwhile has demanding reimbursement from Michel Platini for the money it claims was fraudulently paid to him.
However now in the case, former Fifa secretary general Jérôme Valcke is under suspicion as is and former financial director Markus Kattner. Indeed all told there are around 20 cases now wending their way through the Swiss courts which have Fifa at their core.
Chaos in Europe; silence in England
- Another football scandal looms as law officers raid the German FA’s offices
- Swiss prosecutors demand prison for beIN & PSG president and ex-Fifa No 2.
- Infantino looks sunk; but if he takes down Fifa as well, what replaces it?
- Fifa starts to implode, and the strange case of lack of UK interest in events
- Amazing unbelievable development in the Fifa battle; sadly not on UK news
- The Fifa court cases continue, more corruption, more scandals and the FA says…
- How Fifa is finally falling apart in the courts (but the English don’t want to know)
- The Swiss government is fighting Fifa. And now so is the USA!
- Another legal case involving Fifa, yet more silence in the UK media
- The home and away scandal: ignorance, or cover up?
- The reason why Liverpool and Man C are ahead of Arsenal.
- How which referee a club gets has a major impact on the result of each game
- The statistical evidence that shows PGMO are biased against Arsenal
- How European football has taken up the fight against clubs breaking FFP