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Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini to Stand for 11-day Trial for FIFA ‘Fraud and Forgery’

Former FIFA president Joseph Blatter, 86 , and Michel Platini, 66, the former head of European football governing body UEFA, will stand for a two-week trial at Switzerland’s Federal Criminal Court in the southern city of Bellinzona, following a mammoth investigation that began in 2015 and lasted six years.

The pair are being tried over a two million Swiss franc ($2.08 million) payment in 2011 to Platini. They are accused of having, to the detriment of FIFA, illegally obtained the payment, plus social security contributions of 229,126 francs, in favour of Platini.

The former French football great “submitted to FIFA in 2011 an allegedly fictitious invoice for a (alleged) debt still existing for his activity as an adviser for FIFA in the years 1998 to 2002,” according to the court.

The defendants are both accused of fraud and forgery of a document. Blatter is accused of misappropriation and criminal mismanagement, while Platini is accused of participating in those offences.

The indictment was filed by the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG).

The trial will conclude on June 22, with the three judges delivering their verdict on July 8.

The defendants could face up to five years’ imprisonment or a fine.

Both FIFA and UEFA are headquartered in Switzerland, in Zurich and Nyon respectively.

Both have long denied wrongdoing and claim they had a verbal deal in 1998. That defense first failed with judges at the FIFA ethics committee, which banned them from soccer, and later in separate appeals at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Now the case comes to a criminal court which will sit only until lunchtime each day because of the 86-year-old Blatter’s health, 18 months after he was in a coma following heart surgery.

Blatter is due to be questioned Wednesday and Platini one day later.

Blatter said in a statement everything was accounted for properly and he is optimistic about his chances at the trial. Platini denounced what he called “unfounded and unfair accusations.” He has claimed the allegations were fed to prosecutors in a plot to stop him from becoming FIFA president.

Arguments and evidence in court will revisit the widely discredited FIFA political culture during Blatter’s 17-year presidency, and around the time Qatar controversially won the hosting rights to this year’s World Cup.

Platini sent his invoice to FIFA in January 2011, only weeks after the World Cup vote. It was quickly paid as Blatter’s next re-election campaign took shape.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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