Former FIFA officials Blatter and Platini acquitted of fraud charges

After six years of investigations and two weeks of legal action, Michel Platini and former FIFA president Sepp Blatter were acquitted by a Swiss court on Friday on corruption charges.

Prosecutors accused Blatter, a Swiss citizen who has led FIFA for 17 years, and Platini, a former captain and manager of the French national team, of illegally arranging for FIFA to pay Platini two million Swiss francs (1.8 million euros) in 2011 and seeking a sentence of 20 a couple of months.

Both men denied the allegations. Blatter, 86, said the two million francs payment followed a “gentlemen’s agreement” between the couple when he asked Platini to become his technical adviser in 1998.

Platini, 67, worked as a consultant from 1998 to 2002 with an annual salary of CHF 300,000. According to Blatter, the remainder of Platini’s one million annual salary is due at a later date.

Prosecutors said the verbal agreement between the two men never existed and called it “a fabrication.”

When Blatter approved the payment, he was campaigning for re-election, and Platini, then UEFA president, was seen as powerful among European members who could influence the vote.

The wrongdoing allegations ended Blatter’s reign as FIFA president and dashed Platini’s hopes to succeed him after both were suspended from football when the news broke.