Former FIFA officials Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini have been charged with fraud and other offences by Swiss prosecutors after a six-year investigation into a controversial $2 million payment.
The 85-year-old Blatter and 66-year-old Platini now face a trial within months at federal criminal court in Bellinzona.
“This payment damaged FIFA’s assets and unlawfully enriched Platini,” Swiss federal prosecutors said on Tuesday .
The case from September 2015 ousted Blatter ahead of schedule as FIFA president and ended then-UEFA president Platini’s campaign to succeed his former mentor.
Swiss cases often take years to reach a conclusion.
The case centres on Platini’s written request to FIFA in January 2011 to be paid back-dated additional salary for working as a presidential adviser in Blatter’s first term, from 1998-2002.
Blatter authorised FIFA to make the payment within weeks. He was preparing to campaign for re-election in a contest against Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar, where Platini’s influence with European voters was a key factor.
“The evidence gathered by the (attorney general’s office) has corroborated that this payment to Platini was made without a legal basis,” prosecutors said.
Both Blatter and Platini have long denied wrongdoing and cited a verbal agreement they had made, now more than 20 years ago, for the money to be paid.
Blatter has been charged with fraud, mismanagement, misappropriation of FIFA funds and forgery of a document. Platini has been charged with fraud, misappropriation, forgery and as an accomplice to Blatter’s alleged mismanagement.
Platini, a French soccer great, was not placed under formal investigation until last year, and months later the more serious allegation of fraud was included against both men.
Prosecutors had opened criminal proceedings against Blatter in September 2015 ahead of a police raid at FIFA headquarters in Zurich on the day he and Platini attended a meeting of the soccer body’s executive committee.
Blatter has been in poor health and a final round of questioning by Swiss investigators was delayed until August.
After undergoing heart surgery last December, Blatter spent a week in an induced coma.
Blatter also faces a separate criminal proceeding related to authorizing a $1 million FIFA payment to Trinidad and Tobago in 2010 into the control of then-FIFA vice president Jack Warner. Two former FIFA officials are also suspects in that investigation.