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Platini and Blatter fraud trial set for June

Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and former UEFA chief Michel Platini will appear before Swiss prosecutors on charges of fraud from June 8-22, a Swiss court said Tuesday.

It will be the final hearing in a long-running saga that began in 2011 and stems from a payment from FIFA to Platini of 2 million Swiss francs ($2.15 million, 1.8 million euros) for consultancy services.

Platini’s services date from 1998 to 2002 when he had a 300,000 Swiss franc-per-year deal, payment for which was only made eight years later.

The pair are being investigated for “disloyal management”, “breach of trust” and “forgery of securities”, the Federal Criminal Court of Switzerland said.

Blatter was forced to resign as FIFA boss in 2015 and world football’s governing body banned him for eight years, later reduced to six.

Three-time Ballon d’Or winner Platini was suspended from all football-related activities for four years.

The pair are to be questioned again before the investigation is concluded.

They could be fined or face up to five years in jail if found guilty.

The Swiss Attorney General announced last November that Platini and Blatter had been indicted and said that it was up to the Federal Criminal Court, in Bellinzona, to decide whether or not to try the two men.

Both men at the time told AFP they expected the court to clear them.

Platini and Blatter have insisted all along that they had orally agreed annual compensation of one million Swiss francs, which was beyond FIFA’s finances at the time and they settled the balance in 2011.

Blatter last year dismissed the suggestion that this was an under-the-counter payment, saying FIFA paid the correct pension contributions and Platini had “paid taxes on this amount at his place of residence in Switzerland”.

Platini had suggested he might run against Blatter for the FIFA presidency in the 2011 election but in the end did not stand. Blatter was re-elected unopposed.

The revelation followed the FIFA corruption arrests on the eve of Blatter’s re-election for a fourth term in May. A few days later, he announced he would resign, triggering a battle to succeed him.

Platini was the favourite but after he was banned, his UEFA deputy Gianni Infantino won the job.

The two defendants have long suspected Infantino, or his entourage, alerted the prosecutor’s office to the four-year-old transaction.