Former FIFA president Joseph Blatter and former UEFA president Michel Platini were on Friday acquitted by the Swiss Federal Criminal Court in a FIFA fraud trial.
The two ex-football officials had been charged by federal prosecutors in Switzerland with defrauding FIFA in connection with a payment of two million Swiss francs (2.07 million dollars) Platini received.
The Frenchman had received the money from FIFA in 2011 for work done as a consultant between 1998 and 2002.
Switzerland’s Blatter, 86, presided over the world governing football body from 1998 to 2015.
The Swiss probe started in 2015 after a search at the FIFA headquarters on general corruption suspicion.
Platini was originally only listed as a witness.
The prosecution had wanted a suspended sentence of one year eight months for both men.
Platini was also to be fined some 2.2 million Swiss francs, the original payment plus social security taxes FIFA also paid.
Blatter and Platini had protested their innocence, with FIFA not in a financial position at the time to fully pay the Frenchman Platini who for his part spoke of a fabricated case.
Blatter, who had said the two had a verbal agreement for the payment, said shortly ahead of the verdict he expected to be found not guilty.
“I expect nothing else but an acquittal. I am not innocent in my life but I am innocent in this case,” he said before entering the Bellinzona court house.
Platini had spoken of a politically-motivated case which ended his ambition to take over from Blatter as FIFA president, a position now held by former UEFA secretary general Gianni Infantino.
Both men were banned from football by the FIFA ethics committee, and their careers were over even though the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) later reduced the bans.
Platini, 67, said in a statement distributed by his lawyer that “my fight is a fight against injustice. I have won a first game.”
“The truth has come to light in this trial,” he said, vowing “we will meet again”.
He added that he would “go all the way in my quest for the truth” because “there are culprits who did not appear during this trial.”(NAN)