Sepp Blatter chose his resort during his trial: a five-star hotel overlooking Lake Maggiore. The former Swiss president of the International Football Federation (FIFA), from 1998 to 2015, is delighted to find, from June 8 to 22, Michel Platini, with whom he will appear before the Swiss Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona for “suspicions of fraud, unfair management, breach of trust and forgery in titles”.
Mr. Blatter is happy to “to stay in the same hotel, during the trial”than the one who was the former boss of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) from 2007 to 2015. “It is not a question of being in the same hotel”, nevertheless certifies World the Frenchman, prosecuted for having received from Mr. Blatter, in February 2011, an allegedly unfair payment of 2 million Swiss francs (1.9 million euros).
This divergence reflects the bittersweet relationship, made up of hatred and admiration, between the two defendants, former political allies who have become irreconcilable rivals. The common fall of the two former main leaders of world football, in the fall of 2015, after the Swiss public prosecutor’s office had opened a criminal investigation into this payment, and their legal setbacks are akin to a Shakespearean drama.
This affair torpedoed the political ambitions of the Frenchman. Candidate for the succession of Mr. Blatter, he was suspended by the Ethics Committee of FIFA, like his ex-mentor from Valais.
“There was a filial relationship between them”
Between the cheeky and charming Blatter, 86, and the former star of the grounds, 66, there was however a long ” honeymoon “, as noted by a former collaborator of the French. From their meeting in November 1987, in Zurich, during the draw for the 1990 Italian World Cup, to the election of Michel Platini as UEFA president in 2007, with the belated support of Valaisan, the duo is established as the winning ticket in world football.
It was in January 1998, during a secret meeting organized in Singapore, that the two men made a pact: powerful FIFA number 2 since 1981, Mr. Blatter, who was nervous at the idea of succeeding the Brazilian Joao Havelange, puts in the pocket “Platoche”, then co-president of the organizing committee of the 1998 World Cup in France.
After the election of “Sepp” at the head of FIFA in June 1998, the ex-player became his technical adviser. Based in Paris, he travels regularly to Zurich to “to give opinions” within several technical committees and is in charge in particular of the harmonization of the calendars of the competitions and the Goal program of aid to the development of the poor federations.
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