Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and footballing great Michel Platini have been cleared of corruption charges following their trial in Switzerland.

The verdict concludes a seven-year investigation into the pair during which the football world shunned them.

The two went on trial accused of “unlawful payments” from Blatter to Platini amounting to two million Swiss francs ($2.06 million) in 2011 during his reign as FIFA president.

However, Josephine Contu Albrizio, the judge said the pair’s account of a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ for FIFA to pay Platini 2 million Swiss francs for consultation work was credible, and serious doubts existed about the prosecution’s allegation it was a fraudulent payment.

As a result Blatter, who led FIFA for 17 years, was cleared of fraud by the Federal Criminal Court in the southern city of Bellinzona while Platini, a former France national team captain, and manager, was also acquitted of fraud.

The two had always denied the charges against them from the beginning and maintained their innocence against any malfeasance.

“I have always said my conscience is clear,” a relieved but frail Blatter told reporters outside the court.

“Naturally nobody’s perfect, but in the case of my job, my work, 44 years working at FIFA, for me it is so important that this case has been settled at the highest Swiss level,” the 86-year-old added.

Platini, aged 67, described his joy, saying the allegations had turned him from a legend of world football to a “devil”

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

“The truth has come to light,” he added. “I kept saying it: my fight is a fight against injustice.”

Both officials were banned in 2015 from football for eight years over the payment, although their bans were later reduced. Platini, who also lost his job as UEFA president following the ban, said the affair was a deliberate attempt to thwart his attempt to become FIFA’s president in 2015.

Platini’s former general secretary at UEFA, Gianni Infantino, entered the FIFA race and won the election in 2016, a position he holds to this day.

After the Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini trial, Swiss federal prosecutors said they would examine the written verdict before deciding whether to appeal the decision.

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