Sepp Blatter, pictured, has been found not guilty with Michel Platini in Switzerland ©Getty Images

Former FIFA and UEFA Presidents Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini have been cleared of criminal charges during their trial in Switzerland.

Blatter, who led FIFA for 17 years, was cleared of fraud by the Federal Criminal Court in the southern city of Bellinzona along with Platini, a former France national team captain and European Championships winner.

"I want to express my happiness for all my loved ones that justice has finally been done after seven years of lies and manipulation," said Platini.

"My fight is a fight against injustice. 

"I won a first game."

Platini and Blatter were on trial faced with charges of fraud, embezzlement and corruption related to a secret payment of CHF2 million (£1.6 million/$2 million/€1.9 million) between the two former powerbrokers in 2011.

They claimed the FIFA payment was given to Platini, and authorised by Blatter, for "consultancy services" between 1998 and 2002.

Swiss prosecutors had said it "was made without a legal basis" and "unlawfully enriched Platini" but the judge found them not guilty this morning.

"I am not innocent in my life but in this case I am innocent!" said Blatter.

The two men said it was a "gentleman's agreement" made in 1998 which prosecutors dismissed as an invented version of events.

Michel Platini has suggested that he will go after those who led the case against him in his
Michel Platini has suggested that he will go after those who led the case against him in his "quest for truth" ©Getty Images

Swiss law places a five-year time limit on such payments which led to Blatter saying that FIFA could not afford to pay Platini at that time, despite having a total income of CHF2.7 billion (£2.2 billion/$2.7 billion/€2.5 billion) and overall profit of CHF115 million (£93 million/$118 million/€110 million) over the four-year period.

Platini was forced to return the money before the trial but will be repaid following the verdict.

The United States Government launched a wide-ranging investigation into bribery, fraud and money laundering at FIFA in 2015 which led to Blatter standing down from the helm.

The FIFA Ethics Committee had banned Blatter and Platini from football and removed them from office resulting in them taking their cases to the governing body's Appeals Committee and later to the Court of Arbitration for Sport which was rejected in 2020.

Platini claims the investigation was a deliberate plot to prevent him from ascending to the FIFA Presidency.

This paved the way for incumbent Gianni Infantino to rise to power.

The Frenchman vowed that he will be going after unspecified "culprits" who led to case against him.

"Let them count on me, we will meet again," the 67-year-old said. 

"I will not give up and I will go all the way in my quest for truth.

"Believe me, going from being a legend of world soccer to a devil is very difficult, especially when it comes to you in a totally unfair way."

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