By Tony Attwood
According to Die Welt, Fifa is investigating claims that the new President of Fifa, a Mr Infantino, has been doing the rounds destroying recordings of a Fifa council meeting in Mexico.
A Fifa spokesman pronounced to Sky Sports News: “We are not in a position to indicate if we have or have not begun preliminary investigatory proceedings against an individual. We would however like to point out that there are no formal proceedings going on against Mr Infantino.”
Meanwhile there are suggestions that Infantino was also doing the rounds talking about how to get rid of Domenico Scala, the head of the audit and compliance committee before Scala resigned, after the Fifa executives changed the rules so that the audit and compliance committee could be stopped doing investigations into corruption.
Untold covered this but most of the media chose to ignore it.
What was also interesting was that Scala was responsible for deciding how much Infantino should be paid. It is widely said among Fifa watchers that Infantino described the £1.3m salary he was offered as an “insult”. Infantino then got Fifa at its congress in Mexico (the one at which it is said that recordings were destroyed) to give the Fifa council the power to appoint and remove members of the supposedly independent watchdog group.
However the fact that Infantino got very angry about his salary is of particular interest now, as it has turned out that Sepp Blatter, Jérôme Valcke and Markus Kattner had in the past awarded themselves pay rises and bonuses of around £55m without anyone else’s authority. It appears that such self-awarded pay rises break Swiss law – as well as being evidence of corruption which is what the US officials are investigating.
Now Fifa has said it will “refer the matter of these contracts and payments to the ethics committee for its review.” But with Scala removed and Fifa having given itself the right to put whomsoever it wants on the audit and compliance committee, it looks as if it can vote to Infantino the sort of salary that Blatter and co got and which Infantino seems to think is his by right.
The whole point is that amendments to contracts need to be scrutinised carefully before they are awarded, and this is where the problem comes in, because with Fifa having power over the committee that can change contracts and with no outside auditing going on, we are back where we started.
As an example of what was happening with the contracts all three officials were given “special bonuses” after the 2010 World Cup which were not listed in their contract. There were also bonuses after the 2014 WC and for the awarding of the 2018 WC to Russia.
Now Fifa has noted that “the people who signed the contracts were in principle also the ones that approved them” and so it rather looks as if, by taking total control of the relevant committees and getting rid of anyone who might be overseeing what the committees do, the top dogs in Fifa are looking to continue to get these bonuses but now with the rubber stamp of committees that are said to be overseeing the working of Fifa.
Certainly we know that in 2013 Fifa set up a new sub-committee to set salaries. This seems to have allowed extra payments to be made whenever and however the top men wanted and kept on making payments even after the Dept of Justice in the USA arrested various Fifa officials in Zurich. That was the meeting that came after Swiss law was changed to allow aggrieved parties to arrest people who were in Switzerland attending a meeting of an international body that was based on Switzerland – something we had a bit of fun pointing out on Untold.
So it very much looks as if Fifa is on the one hand saying what happened before was all wrong and needs sorting, while also saying it now has compliance committees to keep an eye on things. But Fifa has control over who is on the compliance committees, and is already removing people from them that it doesn’t like.
These moves are getting a little mention in the press, but not much – but I am sure they will all be there when the US officials move again, claiming that they have predicted as much.
The main message seems to be: Fifa hasn’t changed, and the FA is still pumping money into Fifa and talking up its willingness to host a future world cup.
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