This summer, Sepp Blatter’s judicial agenda promises to be busy. The former Swiss president of the International Football Federation (FIFA), 84, will have to leave Zurich several times, where he is enjoying a peaceful retirement, to go to Bern, to the headquarters of the Swiss Confederation’s prosecution ( MPC).
Thursday, July 30, the former boss of world football (1998-2015) begins a series of three hearings in the context of the criminal proceedings against him, in September 2015, for “Suspicion of unfair management and breach of trust” by Swiss justice. Mr. Blatter had not been heard by the MPC for five years.
Assisted by his lawyer, Lorenz Erni (who defended the director Roman Polanski), he must first be questioned about a private jet flight carried out in 2007 by Jack Warner, the former president of the Football Confederation of North America, Central America and the Caribbean (Concacaf), indicted for corruption by the American justice. A journey that FIFA had taken in charge for an amount of 365,000 dollars.
Then, on August 6, the Valaisan will be heard about a loan “Without interest or guarantee” million dollars paid from a FIFA account in April 2010 to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation, then under the control of Mr. Warner. Both under criminal proceedings in this aspect of the investigation, the former French secretary general of FIFA, Jérôme Valcke, and the former financial director of the organization, Markus Kattner, must also be heard in Bern.
These two aspects did not appear in the investigations carried out by the MPC on Mr. Blatter when the criminal proceedings were opened against him in September 2015.
“I have nothing to hide and my conscience is clear”
“I am finally given an opportunity to answer and explain myself, confides Mr. Blatter to World. While being and remaining optimistic, I am still a little touched that we are going back to old facts that were not up to now in my file. For what reasons are these three hearings organized, when the two new cases are in substance practically identical and concern the same association responsible and the same person? “
For its part, FIFA indicates that the MPC opened these investigations on its own. She declares to have “The hope that all those responsible for the damage caused to football will finally be held accountable for their actions and will not be able to hide forever with their ill-gotten gains”.
« I nevertheless remain calm, I have confidence in myself, I have nothing to hide and my conscience is clear », assure M. Blatter.
Finally, the 1is September, the Valaisan will be questioned on the most media aspect of the criminal proceedings: the allegedly unfair payment of 2 million Swiss francs (1.8 million euros) made in 2011 to Michel Platini, then president of the Union of European football associations (UEFA).
In June, the investigation was extended to the former number 10 of the Blues “For suspicion of participation in an unfair management and forgery in the titles”. According to our information, the French – who must be heard in early September – has not yet had access to the criminal file. As for Mr. Blatter, he has not, to date, been able to consult all of the documents. Mr. Kattner, Mr. Valcke, as well as former members of Mr. Blatter’s cabinet are also called to testify.
Both Mr. Blatter and Mr. Platini ensure that this payment was paid as an arrears of salary to the French for work carried out by the latter when he served as adviser to the Swiss, between 1998 and 2002. This payment earned Mr. Blatter as the ex-player a suspension of several years pronounced by the ethics committee of FIFA.
After filing a complaint before a commercial court against the two men, in December 2019, to be returned the 2 million Swiss francs, FIFA was formed “ civil and injured party In this case with the MPC.
In June, the Swiss prosecution closed one part of the procedure. It was an investigation targeting Mr Blatter since 2015 for a TV rights contract signed in 2005 with the Caribbean Football Union, then headed by Mr Warner. But FIFA, whose current president Gianni Infantino is at open war with his predecessor, has appealed against this decision to the Federal Criminal Court.
The weakened Swiss parquet
Mr. Blatter knows the magistrate well who will question him during this series of hearings since the federal prosecutor Thomas Hildbrand is from Visp (Valais), his hometown. He had already investigated FIFA in the context of the International Sport & Leisure affair, named after the sports marketing company that managed FIFA’s media rights until its bankruptcy in 2001.
In 2010, the prosecutor’s office of the canton of Zug had closed the criminal proceedings, initiated by Mr. Hildbrand, for “Unfair management and breach of trust” against FIFA, its former Brazilian president Joao Havelange and the latter’s son-in-law, Ricardo Teixeira. The two men, who had received bribes from ISL, escaped prosecution by agreeing to pay the sum of 3 million Swiss francs in ” repair of the damage ».
Mr. Blatter’s hearings come as MPC magistrates remain in shock at the resignation of Attorney General Michael Lauber on Friday, July 24. Responsible for proceedings related to FIFA from 2015 to 2019, the head of the Swiss public prosecutor’s office returned his apron after the Federal Administrative Court concluded that he had ” deliberately concealed the truth »About a secret meeting organized in June 2017 with Gianni Infantino.
On July 3, the Swiss Public Prosecutor’s Supervisory Authority appointed an extraordinary prosecutor. The latter will determine whether criminal proceedings should be opened after the filing of criminal complaints against MM. Lauber and Infantino for these informal meetings.