Fifa in crisis
Today, 8 June, Michel Platini and ex-Fifa president Sepp Blatter appeared in court in Switzerland in the start of the suspicious payment case.
It is a story that occupies a lot of people in Europe for one very simple reason. If, as the prosecutors suggest, the two are guilty of fraud, it was fraud right at the very top of football. And if that is the case, what is there to say that the same fraud, and the same incompetence that allowed it to go on unnoticed, is not happening today?
What assurances do we have that Fifa in particular is not still immersed dealings which anywhere else in the world would be making headlines daily? What has happened to the Swiss case against the present head of Fifa? And why has he packed up himself, his belongings and his family and gone to live in Qatar (where Swiss law doesn’t reach)?
So here’s a second question: why does the English media utterly refuse even to mention that the case against Infantino, and the case against Platini and Blatter, while instead they seemingly spend their days making up fantasy tales about transfers that we know (at least in 97% of the cases) will never happen?
Put another way, if they are not covering something this big, what else are they covering up?
And yet in the Swiss Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona Blatter and Platini and on trial, in a trial that suggests that the whole of Fifa was (and possibly still is) utterly corrupt. And let us not pretend that England is not part of the deal. Around 95 per cent of Fifa’s revenue come from the sale of television, marketing, hospitality and licensing rights related to the World Cup. And it is the sale of such rights – including the rights to broadcast in the UK – that most of the time is at the heart of allegations against Fifa.
Platini and Blatter are accused of “fraud”, “unfair management”, and “abuse of confidence”. The prosecution accuses the two former leaders of having “illegally obtained, to the detriment of Fifa, a payment of 2 million Swiss francs in favour of Michel Platini”. They can each face a maximum of five years imprisonment.
The claim is that “more than eight years after the end of his activity as an adviser”, Platini claimed 2 million Swiss francs was owed to him for the work, and Sepp Blatter authorised the payment.
In their defence Blatter and Platini make the extraordinary claim that they had agreed a salary of one million Swiss francs per annum. It was, they say, agreed orally and without witnesses. In his statement Plantini said the money that was paid was the balance of his salary that was due.
Platini is also claiming that he is the victim of a plot to block his path to the presidency of Fifa by Gianni Infantino, who is the current president of Fifa. Is it Infantino perhaps who is persuading the always compliant football pages of the British media not to mention that he is cited in this case? Is it noteworthy in this case that Infantino is a resident of Qatar from which he cannot be extradited to give evidence?
And what was it that Infantino and the head of the entire Swiss legal department were discussing at their secret meetings before Infantino packed his bags and moved to what is for him the safest place in the world? The place that has no extradition treaties with relevant countries.
But before we come to that the two defendants in the current trial will have to explain why it was thought that in this case there should be no written contract and no written record of the transfer of money.
Fifa is thus proclaiming itself to be the poor, innocent party whose money has been stolen by conniving old men. Its current head is sitting in Qatar, undoubtedly smirking because the Swiss case against him can’t proceed because he’s out of reach.
And all the while the English media think that none of this is of any relevance, and instead feed us daily tales of transfers at least 97% of which will never happen.
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- Beyond any doubt Infantino is getting his way. Next: Fifa will leave Zurich