Former FIFA and UEFA Presidents Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini have been acquitted of fraud, forgery and mismanagement in a court in Switzerland on Friday.
The trial centered on a payment made by FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, to Platini in 2011. At the time, Platini was President of UEFA, European soccer’s governing body.
The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) accused both men of unlawfully arranging the payment of 2 million Swiss Francs (current value US $2.05 million).
A statement released by the court after the trial read that “the result of the evidence supports the version of the accused, the facts of the indictment cannot therefore be considered to have been created with a probability bordering on certainty and the court adheres to the version the prosecution’s serious doubts remain.”
As Blatter walked into the courtroom to hear the verdict, he told reporters: “I am not innocent in my life, but in this case, I am innocent.”
During the trial in June, Blatter claimed the payment to Platini was a paying of salary owed to the Frenchman for some consultancy work done with FIFA between 1998 and 2002.
“It’s a salary that was due. I don’t know why we are in a criminal hearing for an administrative procedure,” said Blatter.
“Platini told me, I’m worth a million and I told him, so you’ll be with me for a million – gentlemen’s agreement,” the 86-year-old continued.
Platini, meanwhile, said he would retaliate against unspecified “culprits” who were involved in the case being made against him.
“I wanted to express my happiness for all my loved ones that justice has finally been done after seven years of lies and manipulation,” the 67-year-old said in a statement sent to CNN by his lawyers.
“The truth has come to light during this trial and I deeply thank the judges of the tribunal for the independence of their decision.”
He continued: “My fight is a fight against injustice. I won a first game. In this case, there are culprits who did not appear during this trial. Let them count on me, we will meet again because I will not give up and I will go all the way in my quest for truth.”
The verdict is the culmination of an investigation which began in 2015.
Thomas Hildbrand, the Lead Federal Attorney of the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland, who brought the charges against the two men, said in a statement to CNN: “The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland has taken note of the decision of the Criminal Chamber of the Federal Criminal Court.
“Once the Court has issued the written reasoning of its decision, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland will decide about how to further proceed.”
Following the pair’s acquittal, a FIFA spokesperson said: “FIFA takes note of the verdict of the Court regarding the case opened by the OAG and will await the full reasoned judgement before commenting further.”