Ex-Fifa president Joseph Blatter and ex-Uefa president Michel Platini are now in court. A payment of two million francs to Platini is being negotiated. At the start, Blatter’s statement fell flat because he had breathing problems.

Joseph Blatter slowly leaned toward the microphone in his swivel chair in the front row and spoke in a low, cracked voice. Due to health problems, the former Fifa president asked for his interrogation to be postponed towards the end of the first day of the trial against him and Michel Platini. “High Court, I’m not feeling well. I have a complaint that comes back, then I can’t breathe properly either,” Blatter said in a whisper before his planned questioning. “I don’t feel able to answer.”

Supported by his daughter Corinne, the 86-year-old then made his way past more than a dozen TV cameras in the midday sun in front of the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona, Switzerland. He was very tired, he said after the first four hours of the eagerly awaited trial. According to lawyer Lorenz Erni, his client has chest pains and breathing difficulties. That put pressure on the schedule early on, which presiding judge Joséphine Contu Albrizio said is “tailored” to Blatter’s health condition.

What role does Infantino play?

It will only be on Thursday, the second of eleven days of negotiations, that the former Fifa president and former Uefa boss Platini will testify about the allegations of fraud and other crimes. “We look forward to the verdict,” said Platini’s attorney Dominic Nellen as he left the courtroom. “Finally there is a court that is also looking at this story. The witnesses who are coming now are important for us. Mr Platini is correspondingly positive and looking forward to these witnesses.”

Blatter and Platini are accused of having deceived the world association about an alleged outstanding claim by Platini. According to the indictment, Blatter is said to have unlawfully confirmed the payment of FIFA in the amount of two million francs (currently around 1.92 million euros) plus social security contributions to Platini.

Unresolved is the question of how the investigators came across the process. Without Blatter’s testimony, the start of the trial was marked by a verbal exchange of blows between Platini’s defense and Fifa as a private plaintiff — and the question of the role of today’s world association president Gianni Infantino.

Michel Platini was to succeed Sepp Blatter

The court will not be able to avoid the question of who had an interest in these criminal proceedings, said Platini’s lawyer Nellen. He demanded that the court consider a disciplinary order against former federal prosecutor Michael Lauber. It also deals with secret meetings with Infantino. The former Uefa general secretary was promoted to the new president of the world association in 2016 after the fall of Blatter and Platini, who actually already seemed sure of his successor as Fifa boss.

Catherine Hohl-Chirazi, representing Fifa, accused the Platini side of creating a “smoke screen” and setting up a “conspiracy theory”. “There is no connection between the procedures,” she emphasized.

The court rejected several requests by the defense, including to exclude Fifa as a private plaintiff. As well as the desire of the Fifa representative to be allowed to plead in French.

Before the start of the process, Blatter was in a good mood

Platini (66) followed the start of the German trial between his three representatives with headphones and a French translation on his ears from the second row diagonally behind leaves. Before his health problems, the 86-year-old in particular had shown confidence, joked and laughed together with Platini.

“With the beautiful sun that’s there, I’m in a good mood. I’m confident because I have nothing to blame myself for,” said Blatter on Wednesday morning when he arrived at the court. “It takes two weeks, so I have to be in a good mood on the first day.” A total of eleven days of negotiations are scheduled until June 22nd. A verdict is expected to be announced on July 8.