Sepp Blatter, Platini to face  lenient sentences if found guilty in FIFA trial

By Chigozie Anueyiagu, The Nigerian Voice Sports

Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and ex-vice president Michel Platini are currently on trial in Switzerland after being accused of defrauding football's governing body

Swiss prosecutors have requested for ex- FIFA president Sepp Blatter and vice president Michel Platini to receive a 20-month suspended sentence if they are found guilty of defrauding football's governing body.

Blatter and Platini were two of the most powerful men in football during their time at the helm of FIFA. Blatter joined the organisation in 1975 and had held the post of president since 1998. Platini is a former three-time Ballon d'Or winner and later became the president of UEFA in 2007.

The duo are currently standing trial and the prosecutor could have demanded for them to be sentenced to five years in prison if they are found guilty for financial wrongdoing; although it is anticipated that they would both avoid jail time. The verdicts are expected to be revealed on July 8.

Blatter and Platini both deny fraud and lesser charges relating to a FIFA-approved payment of 2 million Swiss francs (£1.6m) that was made to Platini back in 2011. At the time, Platini was still the president of UEFA and heavily expected to step up from his role of vice president at FIFA to replace Blatter - but his tenure as Blatter's advisor had ended nine years previously.

Prosecutor Thomas Hildbrand also asked the three judges at Switzerland’s federal criminal court for Platini to pay FIFA more than 2.2million francs (£1.8m) in compensation in relation to the invoice.

Furthermore the prosecution argued there was no legal or contractual reason for FIFA to pay Platini's invoiced sum for working as a presidential adviser during Blatter's first term at the governing body, which took place between 1998 and 2002.

However the duo have both previously protested their innocence and instead claim that they had struck a verbal deal back in 1998 to ensure Platini would get an extra 700,000 francs (£580,000) annual payment that FIFA could not afford to pay him at the time. Platini would pen a contract a year later that would see him paid 300,000 francs (£250,000) annually.

Hildbrand assessed on Wednesday that agreeing on such a sum without a written record or witnesses and without provisioning it in the accounts was 'contrary to commercial practices' as well as the habits of FIFA.

He also dismissed the notion that the signed invoice from 2011 was for back pay, arguing that FIFA's finances were more than healthy enough to accommodate such an amount back in 1999. He assessed that the organisation 'would have had more than 21m francs (£17.3m) in reserves' at the time; a figure that had ballooned to more than 327m francs (£269.9m) by 2002.

The trial follows a five-year investigation that was carried out over six years since 2015, with the case in question due to run until June 22.