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Two men who were world football’s most powerful figures are set to go on trial for fraud

Author: Niall Hearty  28 April 2022

Niall Hearty of financial crime specialists Rahman Ravelli considers the issues involved.

The date has now been set for the fraud trial of former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and ex-UEFA president Michel Platini.

Both men were charged with fraud almost six months ago, following a six-year investigation into the 2011 payment of two million Swiss francs to Platini, which had been arranged by Blatter. The Swiss authorities have now announced that the trial at the Swiss Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona will begin on June 8 and is listed until June 22.

The Office of the Swiss Attorney General has said that the payment was made without legal basis and "damaged FIFA's assets and unlawfully enriched Platini".

Blatter, 86, and Platini, 66, have previously said that the payment had been agreed verbally for work that Platini had carried out in an advisory capacity between 1998 and 2002.

The opening of the case by prosecutors in 2015 effectively brought an earlier than planned end to Blatter's term as FIFA president. It also led to former French international footballer Platini – who was UEFA president at the time – ending his attempt to succeed Blatter at FIFA.

Both men faced separate FIFA ethics committee investigations. They were banned from football for eight years, although this was reduced to six years after they appealed.

Blatter is currently serving another suspension after he was found, in March 2021, to have been part of a group of officials who sought to give themselves more than £50 million in undeclared payments.

There is little doubt that the trial, when it begins, will attract worldwide attention – and not just from those with an interest in football. The prosecution of two men who had been such huge and influential names in world football came at a time when FIFA was having to respond to allegations of widespread corruption within its ranks.

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Niall has a wealth of corporate crime expertise and an ability to coordinate global bribery and corruption cases. His achievements in such investigations have made him a logical choice for corporate clients.

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