Former FIFA and UEFA presidents Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini were acquitted of fraud, forgery and mismanagement by a Swiss court on Friday.
The lawsuit related to a payment made by FIFA, world football’s governing body, to Platini in 2011. At the time, Platini was president of UEFA, European football’s governing body.
The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (MPC) accused the two men of illegally arranging the payment of 2 million Swiss francs (current value of 2.05 million US dollars).
A statement released by the court after the trial stated that “the result of the evidence supports the defendant’s version, therefore the facts of the indictment cannot be considered to have been created with probability approaching certainty. and the court stands by the version the prosecution’s serious doubts remain.
As Blatter entered the courtroom to hear the verdict, he told reporters, “I’m not innocent in my life, but in this case, I’m innocent.”
During the trial in June, Blatter claimed the payment to Platini was a salary payment owed to the Frenchman for consultancy work done with FIFA between 1998 and 2002.
“It is a salary that was due. I don’t know why we are in a criminal hearing for an administrative proceeding,” Blatter said.
“Platini told me, I’m worth a million and I told him, then you’ll be with me for a million – gentlemen’s agreement,” the 86-year-old continued.
Platini, meanwhile, said he would retaliate against unspecified “culprits” who were involved in the case against him.
“I wanted to express my happiness for all my loved ones that justice is finally done after seven years of lies and manipulation,” the 67-year-old said in a statement sent to CNN by his lawyers.
“The truth has come to light during this trial and I deeply thank the judges of the court for the independence of their decision.”
He continued, “My fight is a fight against injustice. I won a first game. In this case, there are culprits who did not appear during this trial. Let them count on me, we will see each other again because I will not give up and I will go to the end in my quest for truth.
The verdict is the culmination of an investigation opened in 2015.
Thomas Hildbrand, the lead federal prosecutor in Switzerland’s attorney general’s office, who brought the charges against the two men, said in a statement to CNN: “The Swiss attorney general’s office has taken note of the decision of the Criminal Division of the Federal Criminal Court.
“Once the Court has published the written reasons for its decision, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office will decide on the further action to be taken.”
Following the couple’s acquittal, a FIFA spokesperson said: “FIFA takes note of the Court’s verdict on the case opened by the MPC and will await the full reasoned judgment before commenting further.”