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Gotcha: Infantino revealed as being as bent as those he replaced at Fifa

By Tony Attwood

Of course Untold doesn’t have the resources to do its own original research into many of the stories that circulate in football but we do have friends in Europe who forward articles that appear in European papers.  Articles which are studiously ignored in the British press.

And it was from these that we ran three recent stories:

On May 11 the headline was

Who needs ethics? Fifa kicks out the reformers while the FA and UK media smile at the antics of funny foreigners.

This article was  based on Infantino’s interview in the Swiss newspaper, Le Matin in which he explained away the radical reform to the Ethics Committee by removing most of its members and shutting down its investigations on the grounds that there were too many Swiss people running Fifa.

Now at last, as the latest revelations of Fifa outrages breaks, at least one English paper has taken up the tale.   For the Guardian has revealed what those of us following the story were starting to realise: that the Ethics Committee which Gianni Infantino was so anxious to curtail, was investigating Gianni Infantino for repeated malpractice.

It appears that the prosecutor Cornel Borbely, (one of the Swiss people that Infantino said were making Fifa nationally unbalanced) was investigating Infantino and Fifa general secretary Fatma Samoura, for influencing the election in March of the President of the Confederation of African Football.

It is said that Infantino and Samoura promised FA presidents that they could “accelerate the payment of Fifa ‘development money’ to their  associations if the presidents voted for their selected man Ahmad Ahmad.  (Ahmad himself was under investigation for allegedly seeking money from the former president of the Asian Football Confederation Mohammed bin Hammam, who was banned by Fifa in 2012.)

This is of course exactly the sort of Fifa procedure that has brought it into total disrepute over the years.  Infantino is also accused of working to remove other people who have not supported him and his preferred candidates for key positions, and Cornel Borbely was also investigating these breaches of ethics.  Hence the ethics committee had to be “reformed” (Fifa speak for putting Infantino’s men in place).

And of course we need to remember that Infantino only came to power because it was the Ethics Committee that banned Sepp Blatter from holding further office, in December 2015.

Investigation into Infantino began almost as soon as he took office in 2016 and it now seems clear that Infantino has been plotting his revenge from the start, removing the names of possible candidates for various post from the official lists of candidates, including of course the candidates for the Ethics Committee.

As we have always argued on Untold, both the British government, and the Football Association which runs football in England are implicated in all this, because tax payers money is given to the FA by the state, and the FA gives some of that, plus its support, to Fifa.

Indeed as the Guardian reveals today, David Gill, the ex-Manchester United chief executive, is paid $300,000 a year along with amazing daily allowances for attending meetings.

He was part of the gang that approved the removal of Eckert and Borbely from the Ethics Committee, without any protest and without demanding any explanation.  I would argue that to do his job properly (and given his gigantic salary) the very least Gill should have done was to ask exactly why Eckert and Borbely were being removed while they were doing so much to sort out the corruption within Fifa.  Apparently he said and did nothing.

What’s more it was widely acknowledged (as reported in the earlier articles above) that Eckert and Borbely were working on a huge range of corruption cases.  Thus to remove them suddenly part way through this work was nonsense and of course brought into question the integrity of a supposedly independent part of Fifa, charged with the job of investigating Fifa.  And indeed the investigation into Infantino has (according to the European newspapers which report Fifa activities with a relish we can only admire from afar) now stopped.

Meanwhile other “reforms” have been going on.  Miguel Maduro, chair of the independent governance committee, and director of the global governance programme at the European University Institute in Florence, has been fired from Fifa after eight months in the job.  The three key members of the committee then resigned in protest.

This came after the governance committee ruled that Russia’s deputy prime minister, Vitaly Mutko, could not be a member of the Fifa council, because of Fifa’s own rules separating politics from football.  (You may recall the off quoted rule that threatens the ejection of a country from Fifa if the government gets involved in football – which is what English politicians cite in final desperation when asked why they don’t sort the appalling FA out).

Infantino protested about this citing, the need to bring in Mutko because of the Gazprom sponsorship of the Russian world cup.

Maduro also acted to stop the advancement of Qatari football official Saoud al-Mohannadi, after he was charged with corruption.  As in the Mutko case Infantino wanted his man on board because of the sponsorship of Qatar Airways of the 2022 world cup in … Qatar.  Oh, what a coincidence.

Maduro’s statement made to the Guardian newspaper lays the situation out fair and square.

“I am now convinced that only outside pressure, perhaps from the US authorities or the European Union, can secure meaningful reform of Fifa.   Without it, Fifa won’t reform; its problem is systemic. The fundamental problem is that the power is really important to people within Fifa, so they have a problem accepting independent governance and scrutiny.  If you have such a systemic problem, then this is an environment for corruption to emerge.”

Thus the coup that Infantino has executed against the Ethics Committee effectively stops investigations into wrong doing in relation to the Russian and Qatar world cups and incidentally also into suggestions of wrong doing by officials within the German bid for the 2006 World Cup.

It is terrific news that at last the British press veto on Fifa issues has been broken, although the fact remains that Infantino is still in power, and his coup at the Ethics Committee has been successful.  Just as bad, the FA remains in power in England, endlessly supporting Fifa and handing over tax payers money given to it via the British government, to Fifa.

So one step forwards by the Guardian, amidst several steps back.   At least we can say that the football following public in much of Europe are not being kept as totally in the dark as they are in England.

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7 comments to Gotcha: Infantino revealed as being as bent as those he replaced at Fifa

  • HenryB

    I wish I could say that I am in any way surprised at the goings on at FIFA.

    The way to keep people’s mouths shut is to ‘bribe’ them with hugely disproportionate salaries, with the inference being that any dissension would lead to the being fired – like those pesky investigators.

    It sounds disgusting – but we the people are powerless to do anything about it.

    Snouts in the trough win again.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Another article that leaves me with a double feeling.
    I am thankful that Tony is one of the only ones to shine a light on this dark mess that FIFA is.
    To do this in a blog is very difficult as I know from my own experience.
    So I feel proud to be a part of this blog.

    But it makes me sick about how one (to follow Henry B comment) swine just has been replace by another swine. Some pigs are more equal than other one could say….

    Well one thing is for sure: I can remain my point of view that I don’t like FIFA at all and my doubts about cleaning up the stables has been found correct. The stables are as dirty as they have been under Blatter.


  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Infantino’s unwavering suffocating strangleholds on the Fifa ethics committee that nullifies their oversight effectiveness, and his corrupt practices and dictatorial tendencies at Fifa MUST be checkmated by both the Swiss and the US anti-corruption agencies with the sole aim to bring him and his corrupt colleagues down from office and make him and his surrogates face the ruthlessness of the Law for corruption charges and for their collaboration in reducing the Fifa ethics committee to a mere rubber stamp so as not to be credibly investigated for their shady deals at Fifa.

    If I may say, had Uefa allowed a free and fair election of the Fifa president to transparently and democratically takes place when Sepp Blatter was forced out of office for his corruption at Fifa, Infantino might not have won the election but the Jordanian Prince Ali. And the correct reforms at Fifa we are all been hoping to see happen could have been overseen by the Jordanian Prince Ali.

  • Menace

    While the light on FIFA corruption is being shone by Tony, permit me to shine a light on the corrupt Health & Safety Executive. They have kept a low profile on football stadia & the pits close to the playing field & also hidden from the fire hazards of Latimer Road high rise buildings.

    Everyone has a view on who is responsible now that people have died. The truth is the Executive have failed miserably in their jobs. They have the ultimate claim to fame & equally responsibility for failure.

    When will football stadia have a proper safety check done on the electronic hoardings that can easily electrocute a human with a lightening strike or earthing failure?

  • Gord

    Luka Modric is under investigation for perjury, in changing his testimony in that court case.

    Did some tiny, former UEFA official coach him to do that?

  • Mandy Dodd

    The guy seems a carbon copy of Blatter, so nothing surprising. And the person he was up against in the election for FIFA head wasn’t a paragon of virtue either.
    A real sorry state, corruption from the top filters down… Mike Riley knows

  • Brickfields Gunners

    WOO HOO , HOO ! Kick them all out !