A climax has already been reached, on the second day of the trial of the former French president of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), Michel Platini, and the former Swiss boss of the International Football Federation (FIFA ), Sepp Blatter, for “suspicion of fraud, unfair management, breach of trust and forgery in titles”. Thursday, June 9, the former number 10 of the Blues – who faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison – was questioned for nearly an hour by the president of the court of criminal cases of the Swiss Federal Criminal Court (TPF) of Bellinzona, in the canton of Ticino.
From the sheets laid out on his table, Mr. Platini gave the version he has had since the opening of criminal proceedings by the Public Ministry of the Confederation (MPC) in September 2015, concerning the alleged unfair payment of 2 million Swiss francs (1.9 million euros) made to him by Mr. Blatter in February 2011, several months before the election for the presidency of FIFA in June 2011, won by the Valaisan with the support of the ‘.
Willingly mocking, the ex-player pleaded negligence and played the card of casualness in his relationship with money when he repeated that this payment was made as a “wage balance” for the period (1998-2002 ) where he served as the “technical advisor” to his former ally and mentor Sepp Blatter.
“I want 1 million”
Under the wide eyes of the president, Mr. Platini recounted that in the “spring of 1998”, when Mr. Blatter associated him with his campaign for the presidency of FIFA and asked him what he wanted as a salary, he would have answered “for fun, I want 1 million (per year), pesetas, liras, rubles, marks, it’s up to you. »
According to Mr. Platini, Mr. Blatter could not have honored this “oral agreement”: due to “significant financial problems”, the President of FIFA made him initial, in August 1999, a consultant contract at 300,000 annual Swiss francs. “Blatter told me: ‘My general secretary is earning 300,000 Swiss francs, I’m going to give you the same contract as him and the rest we’ll see later.’ »
While the MPC does not believe in this “oral agreement” thesis, the president asks the Frenchman “why this 1999 contract does not mention anything about the amount that was due to you according to the oral agreement”, i.e. a total of 2.8 million Swiss francs? “I knew that one day Mr. Blatter would pay me, I had faith in the President of FIFA, I’m not a money man, I’ve made a very good living since I was 17,” says he squirmed in his chair.
“Why did you assert your claim, this balance, in 2010, eight years after your advisory assignment ended?” “, relaunches the president. “I’m not going to claim money from those who owe me,” Platini said. Except that one day I learned that FIFA had compensated two ex-employees. I thought it would be nice to remind that FIFA owed me money. »
“That’s the whole mystery of it”
In January 2011, Platini sent an invoice for 2 million Swiss francs to FIFA’s financial director, Markus Kattner. This payment resurfaces on September 25, 2015. “By chance, this payment comes out while I am a candidate for the FIFA presidential election”, he quips while refusing to answer the questions of the lawyer of the FIFA, “this house whose president (Gianni Infantino) is indicted”, since 2020, for secret meetings in 2016 and 2017 with the former Swiss attorney general Michael Lauber.
The Frenchman claims to have fallen from the clouds, in September 2015, when he discovered, on reading the 1999 contract that a prosecutor then presented to him, “to have made a mistake”. “I was sure the salary was 500,000, but FIFA knew I was wrong,” he said as 86-year-old Sepp Blatter looked on sardonically.
Heard before Mr. Platini, the Valaisan also defended the thesis of the oral agreement of 1998. However, the president recalled that, during his first hearing in September 2015, Mr. Blatter had not confirmed the principle of “this verbal agreement”. About the difference in amounts between the sums supposed to be due, the octogenarian had replied: “That’s the whole mystery of the thing. »
“I was in shock, under pressure, I was not 100% there,” explained the octogenarian, while adding that this payment “was not a secret and was validated by all the authorities of FIFA”.
The information on the payment given by the former financial director
The President reminded Mr. Blatter that a copy of the invoice sent by Mr. Platini in 2011 had been seized “from a cabinet” behind his desk during a search on September 25, 2015. “What do you think of the thesis that you intended to use this invoice if necessary as a means of pressure to prevent Mr. Platini from becoming president of FIFA, ”she asked him.
“I no longer knew that this important document was in my office,” Mr. Blatter said coolly. I would like to know how these 2 million arrived at the MPC. I’m still not stupid enough to give it to him. »
The atmosphere grew heavy when the former prosecutor and current president of the TPF Court of Appeal, Olivier Thormann, was questioned as a witness on the circumstances in which he opened the investigation into this 2011 payment. Under criminal proceedings since June 6 as part of the investigation targeting Mr. Infantino, Mr. Thormann explained that it was someone close to Mr. Blatter, the former financial director Markus Kattner, who “gave him information” on this payment to Mr. Platini, on May 27, 2015, during an electronic data seizure placed under seal at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich.
Mr. Kattner allegedly gave him a “list” of payments made to executive committee members in 2010. “said the magistrate, who did not record this exchange on the record in the criminal file. Heard as a witness, Mr. Kattner had been assured by Mr. Thormann that this “status excludes an indictment in the future. »