Blatter and Platini face 20-month suspended sentences

BELLINZONA, Switzerland (AP) – Prosecutors in fraud trial Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter and Vice-President Michel Platini on Wednesday requested a 20-month suspended sentence for both men.

Blatter and Platini, a former France captain who was president of Europe’s governing body UEFA, faced up to five years in prison for financial misconduct, but an actual prison sentence was considered unlikely ahead of their 11-day trial. Judgments are expected on July 8.

Prosecutor Thomas Hildbrand also ordered the three judges of the Swiss Federal Criminal Court that Platini pay FIFA more than 2.2 million Swiss francs ($2.2 million) in compensation.

Blatter and Platini deny fraud and lesser charges in connection with a FIFA-approved $2 million payment to the France national team in 2011. At the time, Platini was UEFA president, FIFA vice-president and was expected to succeed Blatter in 2015 .

Platini said in a statement released after the court session that he was “calm and confident”.

“Today’s indictment by the prosecutor’s office is completely unfounded,” Platini said. “The debates at the trial proved that this criminal procedure had no right to exist.”

Prosecutors argued that there was no legal or contractual basis for FIFA to pay Platini’s bill for serving as presidential adviser during Blatter’s first term, between 1998 and 2002. FIFA also paid $229,000 in social security taxes in Zurich.

Both have long denied any wrongdoing and claim they reached a verbal agreement in 1998 whereby Platini would be paid an additional salary which FIFA was unable to pay at the time. Platini signed a contract in August 1999 for an annual payment of 300,000 Swiss francs (US$300,000).

Her defense previously failed at the FIFA Ethics Committee, which banned her from football and removed her from office, the FIFA Appeals Committee and later in separate appeals before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Blatter said FIFA properly settled the money, and Platini claimed the allegation came to light in September 2015 to prevent him from running for FIFA President.

In June 2015, Blatter announced his plan to step down early as president following a sweeping American corruption investigation. A separate but cooperating case by Swiss prosecutors led to the investigation into the Platini payment.

Blatter, 86, and Platini testified last week and both are expected to make closing statements at the end of the trial on June 22.

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