News Former FIFA President Blatter & Michel Platini Cleared Of Corruption Charges

A Swiss court acquitted former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and France football legend Michel Platini of corruption charges on Friday. FIFA President Sepp Blatter was cleared of fraud by the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona, Italy. Platini, a former France national team captain and manager, was also found not guilty of fraud.

Prosecutors charged Blatter and Platini in 2011 with illegally arranging for FIFA to pay the Frenchman $2.0 million. Prosecutors had asked the court to sentence both men to suspended 20-month prison sentences and to order them to repay 2.23 million Swiss francs to Zurich-based FIFA.

The scandal brought Blatter's tenure as FIFA president to an end in disgrace, and it effectively ended Platini's chances of succeeding him after he was banned from football after the affair became public. Blatter, 86, previously stated that the two million franc payment was the result of a "gentlemen's agreement" when he asked Platini to be his technical adviser in 1998. Platini, 67, worked as a consultant for FIFA from 1998 to 2002, earning 300,000 Swiss francs per year - the most FIFA could afford at the time due to financial difficulties, according to Blatter. Blatter stated that Platini's remaining $1 million annual salary would be paid at a later date.

Despite the fact that the two men met in 2010 and discussed the upcoming FIFA presidency elections in 2011, their intentions for the alleged payment were unclear. Blatter was running for reelection against Qatar's Mohamed bin Hammam at the time he approved the payment. Platini, then-president of the European soccer federation UEFA, was seen as having clout with European members who could influence the vote. Prosecutors claimed that the two men's oral agreement for Platini to be paid 2 million francs later for his consulting work did not exist and was an "invention." The payment was discovered as a result of the US Department of Justice's massive investigation into bribery, fraud, and money laundering at FIFA in 2015, which resulted in Blatter's resignation.

Both officials were banned from football for eight years in 2015 due to the payment, but their bans were later reduced.

Platini, who was also fired as UEFA president as a result of the ban, claimed the affair was a deliberate attempt to derail his candidacy for FIFA president in 2015.

(First reported by ESPN)

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