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Platini confident “justice” will prevail as lawyer calls for acquittal in fraud trial

Former FIFA vice President Michel Platini

Former UEFA President Michel Platini has spoken of his confidence in the “justice of the Swiss court to restore the truth in its decision” as his lawyer called for his acquittal in the ongoing fraud trial.

According to French newspaper L’Équipe, Platini spoke at the end of today’s hearing at the Federal Criminal Court of Bellinzona in Switzerland.

Platini and ex-FIFA President Sepp Blatter are on trial faced with charges of fraud, embezzlement and corruption related to a secret payment of CHF2 million (£1.6 million/$2 million/€1.9 million) between the two former powerbrokers.

Blatter is accused of illegally transferring the money to the former France captain in 2011 but both have denied any wrongdoing.

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“I have always deeply respected others, my opponents, my partners and the referees ,” said Platini in a report by L’Équipe.

“I have never had a red card during my career.

“It’s my great pride and it was my dad’s greatest pride.

“I express my confidence in the justice of this court to restore the truth in its decision.

“Wash away what has been soiled and abused for seven long years and recognise the suffering of my family.”

Blatter and Platini were banned for eight years by the FIFA Ethics Committee in relation to the payments in 2015, with this reduced to six years on appeal.

Blatter said earlier in the trial that the payment was part of a “gentleman’s agreement” with Platini.

Swiss lawyer Lorenz Erni, who is defending Blatter, then claimed the 86-year-old’s acquittal was the only possible outcome, adding that the allegations against his claim were “absurd”.

Speaking in court today, Dominic Nellen, who is Platini’s lawyer, also asked for acquittal, insisting the Frenchman was not guilty of fraud or forgery.

Nellen claimed that Platini was a victim of a plot to stop him from becoming the head of FIFA, enabling Gianni Infantino to take the reins instead.

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“FIFA and its boss Gianni Infantino have done everything to ensure that the federal prosecutor definitively dismisses Michel Platini to prevent him from challenging him for the position of head of world football,” said Nellen, in a report by Italian newspaper Il Napolista.

Former FIFA finance director Markus Kattner told the court last week that he remembered the payment but did not alert the federal authorities due to being convinced it was legal.

Erni argued that the money was transferred to Platini in 2011 for consultancy work, insisting there was no other reason for the payment.

He also claimed a written contract had been made for an annual indemnity of CHF300,000 (£250,000/$310,000/€295,000) due to FIFA’s financial situation, but said Blatter verbally agreed with Platini to pay the arrears later.

The Swiss prosecutor’s office demanded in court on June 15 that both former administrators be handed a suspended jail sentence of one year and eight months, far short of the maximum five-year prison sentence which the charges carry if found guilty.

Platini, elected as UEFA President in 2007, had hoped to replace Blatter as FIFA President, but his campaign was undermined by the alleged illegal payment and his career as a football administrator also ended in disgrace.

As a player, Platini had won three Ballon d’Ors and the 1984 European Championships with France.

Blatter led FIFA from 1998 until 2015 when he fell from power amid a mass of corruption scandals at the organisation.

A decision from the court in the southern Swiss city is expected on July 8, after the trial opened last Wednesday (June 8).

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