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Disgraced FIFA chiefs Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini go on trial

Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, once the chiefs of world and European football, went on trial in Switzerland over a suspected fraudulent payment.

Former FIFA president Blatter, 86, and Platini, 66, appeared in the Federal Criminal Court in the southern city of Bellinzona, following an investigation that began in 2015 and lasted six years.

The pair are being tried over a $2.08 million payment in 2011 to Platini, who was then in charge of European football’s governing body UEFA.

The former French football great “submitted to Fifa in 2011 an allegedly fictitious invoice for a (alleged) debt still existing for his activity as an adviser for FIFA in the years 1998 to 2002,” according to the court.

He and retired Swiss football administrator Blatter could face up to five years in jail.

Both have been accused of fraud and forgery of a document. Blatter is accused of misappropriation and criminal mismanagement, while Platini is accused of participating in those offences.

The trial will conclude on June 22, and the verdict is expected on July 8.

Platini and retired Swiss football administrator Blatter were banned from the sport at the very moment when Platini seemed ideally-placed to succeed Blatter at the helm of world football’s governing body.

The two allies became rivals as Platini grew impatient to take over, while Blatter’s tenure was brought to a swift end by a separate 2015 FIFA corruption scandal investigated by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Joseph “Sepp” Blatter joined FIFA in 1975, became its general secretary in 1981 and the president of world football’s governing body in 1998.

He was forced to stand down in 2015 and was banned by FIFA for eight years, later reduced to six, over ethics breaches for authorising the payment to Platini, allegedly made in his own interests rather than FIFA’s.

Platini is regarded among world football’s greatest-ever players. He won the Ballon d’Or, considered the most prestigious individual award, three times – in 1983, 1984 and 1985.

READ MORE: Fifa files criminal complaint against ex-chief Sepp Blatter

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