Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter has denied he approved fraudulent payments to his ex-UEFA counterpart Michel Platini to a Swiss court, insisting it was a “gentlemen’s agreement” between them both.
Charges of fraud, embezzlement and corruption have been brought against the pair due to a payment of CHF2 million (£1.6 million/$2 million/€1.9 million) being made by Blatter to Platini in 2011.
Platini and Blatter deny the charges.
Blatter, who is Swiss, was in better health to testify today after telling judges that he was unable to do so yesterday due to chest pains.
The 86-year-old told the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona that the payment was an “oral contract” the two figures made which dated back to 1998 when Platini became Blatter’s technical adviser.
Platini asked to be paid CHF1 million (£816,000/€959,000/$1 million) but Blatter informed him that his salary could not be paid due to FIFA’s poor finances – a claim the former UEFA President reiterated.
“The payment was not made immediately because FIFA’s finances did not allow it,” Blatter said.
“The situation improved after the World Cup in Germany in 2006.”
FIFA’s finances were suffering in the earlier 2000s due to the collapse of International Sport and Leisure (ISL), the football organisation’s broadcast partner.
Blatter and Platini settled on an annual salary of CHF300,000 (£245,000/€288,000/$307,000) instead with the remaining money to be paid at a later date.
“We never set a deadline for the payment of the balance,” Platini told the court.
“I had no idea when the amount would be paid to me.”
The deal was settled with a handshake which amounted to an alleged “gentlemen’s agreement”.
Nevertheless, the written contract Platini signed with FIFA in 1999 did not refer to extra payments beyond the CHF300,000 salary.
When asked why he did not claim the money until 2010, Platini insisted that money was not “vital” to him.
Platini claimed that he only pursued the money after hearing two former FIFA officials had received substantial payments.
The 66-year-old approached FIFA regarding the payments and it was agreed he should send an invoice for the money.
He said, after sending the form in January 2011, he received the CHF2 million 10 days later, once it was approved by Blatter.