Swiss prosecutors widen FIFA probe to former UEFA president Platini

FILE PHOTO: Former UEFA President Michel Platini waves after his speech before the election of the new UEFA President in Athens, Greece September 14, 2016. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis/File Photo

ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss federal prosecutors are targeting former European football head Michel Platini in a widening of their probe into a 2 million Swiss franc ($2.1 million) payment arranged by former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) said on Friday.

Swiss prosecutors have been probing Blatter over accusations he arranged a payment of two million Swiss francs ($2.06 million) from FIFA to then UEFA president Platini in February 2011.

Blatter and Platini, who captained France to victory in the 1984 European Championship on home soil, were both banned in 2016 from soccer for six years over the payment, made with Blatter’s approval for work done a decade earlier. Both have denied any wrongdoing.

The OAG on Friday said that in May it had widened its probe to cover other aspects of the matter and to investigate three additional people, including Platini.

“The criminal proceedings have been extended against former UEFA President Michel Platini on suspicion of participation in disloyal management and on suspicion of falsification of documents,” the OAG said in an emailed statement on Friday, noting the presumption of innocence applied.

Platini said he was not aware of the subject of the investigation and had considered the matter already closed.

“After five years, it is quite possible that FIFA will continue to harass me with complaints with the sole aim of keeping me out of football and smearing my reputation. FIFA’s best defense against me at the moment is to attack me,” he said in an emailed statement.

World soccer’s ruling body FIFA in December filed claims in Swiss courts seeking to recover the 2 million Swiss francs, which it said were paid inappropriately.

Swiss federal prosecutors in May ended another investigation into Blatter’s deals with the Caribbean Football Union to sell World Cup broadcasting rights and on Friday said an appeal had been filed against that discontinuation, to be decided by Switzerland’s Federal Criminal Court’s appeals board.

Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; additional reporting by Julien Pretot, editing by Ed Osmond