FIFA advised to take legal action to recover Blatter to Platini payment

FIFA has been advised to take legal proceedings to recover an “undue payment” from its former president Sepp Blatter to ex-vice president Michel Platini.

The world governing body’s governance committee has advised the FIFA administration to take the necessary steps to recover the two million Swiss francs (equivalent now to £1.54m) plus fines imposed on the pair when their disciplinary cases were heard before the statute of limitation passes at the end of the year.

The payment from Blatter to Platini was approved on January 18, 2011 and transferred to Platini from FIFA on February 1 of the same year.

FIFA investigated the matter and established that the payment had no basis in contract and was to be considered an undue payment under its ethics rules. Platini said it was a back payment for work he had carried out between 1998 and 2002.

Both men were initially suspended for eight years in December 2015, with both sanctions reduced to six years on appeal.

Sepp Blatter insisted the payment was above board
Sepp Blatter insisted the payment was above board

In September 2016 Platini’s suspension was further reduced to four years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport and his fine reduced from 80,000 Swiss francs to 60,000 Swiss francs (£46,314). The Swiss Federal Tribunal confirmed the decision of CAS in June 2017 and ordered Platini to pay a further 22,000 Swiss francs in legal expenses to FIFA.

The PA news agency understands the delay in making this resolution, which was circulated on November 25, was due to the governance committee waiting for an outcome in criminal proceedings over the payment.

The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) announced on September 24, 2015 that it was conducting an investigation in relation to the payment.

However, FIFA’s governance committee noted: “There has been no outcome or decision in connection with this investigation, nor does it appear that there will be one soon, in particular, since the investigation has been going on for over four years.”

Michel Platini has always insisted the payment was for legitimate work he carried out for FIFA between 1998 and 2002
Michel Platini has always insisted the payment was for legitimate work he carried out for FIFA between 1998 and 2002

The governance committee said that under Swiss law a claim to recover the undue payment must be filed as a claim in court by December 31 of this year.

The statement from the committee added: “The FIFA governance committee draws attention to the fact that, notwithstanding the ongoing investigation by the Office of the Swiss Attorney General for criminal proceedings, the most appropriate course for FIFA to take, from a good governance perspective, is to initiate legal proceedings to recover the money illegally paid by the former president to the former vice president of FIFA in an appropriate civil jurisdiction.”

It recommended that the claims against Blatter and Platini should be made at the same time. It is now up to the FIFA administration whether to act on the resolution from the governance committee.

Platini, who was president of European football’s governing body UEFA from 2007 to 2015 and who had been widely expected to succeed Blatter as FIFA president, completed his suspension in October of this year.

In 2015 Blatter said he had “done nothing illegal or improper” in a statement via his lawyers and Platini said in September of that year: “I wish to clarify that, for the period 1998 to 2002, I was employed by FIFA to work on a wide range of matters relating to football.

“It was a full-time job and my functions were known to all. The remuneration was agreed at the time and after the initial payments were made, the final outstanding amount of two million Swiss francs was paid in February 2011.

“This income has all been fully declared by me to the authorities, in accordance with Swiss law.”