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How the mighty fall: Fraud at the heart of football’s governing institution

On 2 November 2021, news broke that a 6-year investigation in Switzerland has culminated in Sepp Blatter (ex-FIFA president) and Michel Platini (ex-UEFA President) being charged with fraud and other offences relating to a controversial payment of 2m Swiss francs (circa £1.35m).

Blatter and Platini were once “legends” of the very football fabric that we have all grown up with. They were in powerful and prominent positions within the two governing bodies that governed and lead the footballing world. Unfortunately, all was not as it seemed.

The dominoes arguably began to fall in 2015 when U.S. federal prosecutors disclosed cases of corruption by officials and associates connected with FIFA. Swiss authorities also launched a criminal inquiry on “suspicion of criminal mismanagement and of money laundering” concerning the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process. Further investigations followed, one being focused on a payment Blatter authorised in 2011 to Platini for alleged work done between 1998 and 2002. Soon after resignations followed. Platini was only placed under formal investigation last year.

Since the investigation commenced, it has transpired that in January 2011, Platini made a written request to FIFA to be backdated additional salary (2m Swiss francs) for working as a presidential advisor in Blatter’s first term as president from 1998 to 2002.  Blatter authorised the request and organised for payment to be made within days. A coincidence may be, but at the time Blatter was preparing to campaign for re-election in a contest against Mohammed bin Hammam of Qatar, where Platini’s influence with European voters was key. Both Blatter and Platini have denied wrongdoing and have alleged that the payment was a result of an oral agreement.

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.

Blatter has alleged that Platini only made his claim for money in 2010 because FIFA was not able to pay the full amount at the time. He claimed the payment had been delayed and that “all responsible FIFA bodies” had authorised the payment. Both men deny wrongdoing. Swiss prosecutors have taken a different view and have stated that the “payment damaged FIFA’s assets and unlawfully enriched Platini”. One thing is for sure, all eyes will be on the forthcoming trial.

Unfortunately, here at Tenet we see people in leading roles within organisations commit fraud. Sometimes we see “good people, do bad things” due to external pressures or a temporary “blip” in their moral compass.

If you suspect or know that a fraud has been committed in your business, please do not hesitate to get in touch at

Published on November 11, 2021

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