Blatter, Platini face 20-month suspended jail sentences

Sports

BELLINZONA, Switzerland (AP) — Prosecutors in the fraud trial of former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and vice president Michel Platini asked Wednesday for both men to get 20-month suspended prison sentences.

Blatter and Platini, a former France national team captain who was president of European governing body UEFA, faced sentences of up to five years for financial wrongdoing but actual jail time was considered to be unlikely ahead of their 11-day trial. Verdicts are expected on July 8.

Prosecutor Thomas Hildbrand also asked the three judges at Switzerland’s federal criminal court for Platini to pay FIFA more than 2.2 million Swiss francs ($2.2 million) in compensation.

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

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

“The indictment of the prosecutor today is devoid of any basis,” Platini said. “The debates of the trial proved that this criminal procedure had no reason to exist.”

The prosecution argued there was no legal or contractual basis for FIFA to pay Platini’s invoice for working as a presidential adviser in Blatter’s first term between 1998 and 2002. FIFA also paid $229,000 of social security taxes in Zurich.

Both have long denied wrongdoing and claim they had a verbal deal in 1998 for Platini to get extra salary that FIFA could not pay at the time. Platini signed a contract in August 1999 to be paid 300,000 Swiss francs ($300,000) annually.

Their defense previously failed at the FIFA ethics committee, which banned them from soccer and removed them from office, the FIFA appeals committee, and later in separate appeals at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Blatter has said FIFA accounted for the money properly, and Platini has claimed the allegation came to light in September 2015 to block him from campaigning to be FIFA president.

In June 2015, Blatter announced his plan to resign early as president in fallout from a sprawling American corruption investigation. A separate but cooperating case by Swiss prosecutors led to the Platini payment being investigated.

The 86-year-old Blatter 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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