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How Infantino, now head of Fifa, fixed FFP on behalf of PSG and Man City.

By Tony Attwood

At the heart of the story that has been revealed by the hacking of emails concerning Financial Fair Play, Manchester City, PSG and Uefa, is the involvement of Gianni Infantino who is now the head of Fifa.

It is a story that many, I suspect, will choose not to believe.  But before we get into today’s details, here is a thought. In the story there is a lot of talk of the owners of one of the two clubs involved (Man City) threatening to take Uefa down by suing them through every court across Europe.  I imagine, if the club still feels the whole story is untrue they will want to do that with Der Spiegel who have released all the emails. So what happens next should tell us how they see the matter.

Of course I don’t have independent information on this – I am running the story because when the FFP case against Man City started, we were one of the few places that covered it in detail – so I’m just continuing to follow it, in case any readers are interested.

In the story that emerges Infantino appears to have acted completely illegally with the intent of helping clubs by-pass Uefa regulations, seemingly for his own benefit.

Obviously in this as in other reports on this story Untold has published all we are doing is looking at the leaked emails and drawing some conclusions.   And with the latest reports it seems that the most obvious conclusion – assuming the emails are all true (an assumption you may not wish to make – and as I say, the action of the clubs will help indicate their position), is the fact that Infantino is complicit.

So I am taking it that these reports might well be true not because I believe newspapers but because if it were not true Infantino would be issuing writs by now, as would Manchester City and PSG.  That they have not is not proof of the truth, but seems to me to be an indicator. There has been no cease and desist notice issued and the leaks keep on coming.

If Infantino has indeed acted to undermine the whole of FFP for his own personal benefit, then that surely must raise issues for the FA and indeed other footballing authorities about the integrity of Fifa competitions.   Like the world cup, into which the British taxpayer poured millions on pounds just recently.

The story that is revealed is that there was a possibility that Manchester City might be suspended from participation in the Champions League because of the amount of money it was spending.  If you are a long term Untold reader you might recall we were right at the forefront of breaking this story while most of the media in the UK remained completely silent. Indeed I found myself getting increasingly nervous about what we were publishing four years ago because no one in the mainstream was running it – until suddenly Guillem Balagué turned up on BBC Radio 5 one Thursday night and started to confirm what we had been picking up.  That was a relief!

FFP was introduced not only to stop one or two teams from endlessly dominating football, but also because of concerns about the money coming into football from persons of dubious repute based in Russia, the USA and the Arab world.  The point being that some of this money may well have come from illicit sources; in short football could be used both to aggrandise crooks and for money laundering – exactly as we were suggesting several years before that in a series of articles from Anne on this site (articles that raised the hackles of some readers I recall.)

In public at the start of this affair, Platini who was president of Uefa repeatedly said that punishment for clubs breaking FFP would be harsh, including suspension from the Champions League.  However what we didn’t immediately know was that in the background Infantino was working to undermine the whole procedure – something he did to great effect.

The technique Infantino used was very simple.  Uefa had set up an “Investigatory Chamber” (the police force) and an “Adjudicatory Chamber” (the court of law), with the aim of ensuring that the procedures were all fair and above board.  Infantino basically removed this separation and took over the whole process.

Obviously the investigators became interested when sponsors started paying Man City and PSG each (through the airline and the tourist authority of the country) nearly 800% of the amount that Deutsche Telekom were paying Bayern Munich per year for sponsorship.  It was ludicrous at a time when in an open commercial market Man City would have been making headlines if it had received half the amount Bayern were getting. To get eight times as much year after year was not just something that made no sense in market terms, it was just laughable.

It was as insane as voting me novelist of the year.  I mean really, it was that far removed from reality. Even more so when you think how tiny tourism is in Qatar and how lunatically loss making the airline is.  And when one notes that the clubs hardly had to do anything.

It took the investigators little time to suggest that Qatar and PSG were not sponsor and recipient but closely related parties.  They then ranked the true market value of Qatar’s sponsorship at just 1.25% of the amount paid. Put another way Qatar was paying PSG the true value of its sponsorship 80 times over.  PSG had received at least 215,000,000 euros more than it should have done.

And then nothing happened.  And that was because Qatar said they would only negotiate with the men at the top – thus effectively by passing all the evidence and working with Infantino.  Rather like a criminal saying he would only attend court if the judge and jury were made up of his mates.

Taking their lead from this PSG refused to admit any wrong doing – exactly as Man City did in their separate case, and in a series of meetings it was finally agreed that PSG would make up the difference between the amount of money received and the real market value by having some of  the sponsorship written down as coming from other Qatari sources.

Meanwhile Infantino was setting up the same sort of deal with Man City, which is when Brian Quinn, the chief investigator of the Investigatory Chamber, resigned.   Uefa had already sent in auditors to look at Man City’s books, and here they again found massive sums received in sponsorship were simply hidden.

The club however claimed the auditors had made major errors and must withdraw the report or else the club would sue.  The auditors refused.

Now you may have followed other stories in the UK of the failure of auditors to report properly on the finances of major companies.   Most particularly there was the more than generous audit given to Carillion which collapsed at the start of this year, costing tax paying idiots like me £148 million.

But the Man City case was the reverse.  Not that PwC were too lax and lenient but according to Man C they were giving far too negative a report.

Then according to the leaks Ferran Soriano, working with Infantino said he would take FFP to the EU courts.  This comment was one that was taken up by many Man C fans writing to Untold after our reports on this – and we were able quickly to show how the EU courts had already cleared FFP as legal because of what the EU recognises as the unique position of sport in our society.

Support for Uefa was at hand from the marketing experts Octagon, whose review of both PSG and Man City showed the same thing.  In City’s case 75% of its marketing contracts were priced in a way that could not be commercially justified. The overall pricing was 80% too high, and the supposed separate sponsors were all closely related – another breach of the rules.

Then in walked Infantino and suddenly there was a settlement that could be sold to the media as “a warning” not an admission of guilt.  But the sponsors of Man City still didn’t like this and said they were willing to spend all their money on legal action against Uefa if Uefa didn’t give in.  Within a week Uefa – now without Brian Quinn who had resigned in disgust – agreed the deal with PSG.

But Man C proved tougher and threatened again to keep suing Uefa until it collapsed under the pressure – especially as Man C had just won the league.  But then – and as an Arsenal fan I don’t like this – Platini wrote to Man City saying he had talked with Patrick Vieira (now of course with Man City), adding “We understand and like what they are doing with the club.”

Infantino then made a new mega-reduced offer to Manchester City of the same type as the PSG deal – just a 20 million euros fine.

The story reported in the paper is clear.  Infantino is a crook, and both Man C and PSG have benefitted from his crookedness.  So it is now up to Man City and PSG to sue the newspaper to prove that these emails on which all of their reporting is based, are fake.

If they do nothing, and if the Premier League does nothing, then the PL will be complicit in the affair – and the same of course for the league in France.  The outcome will tell us if the League is bent and fixed or not. These are not really accusations that can just be left and ignored.

Footnote: we have had a number of comments in, in relation to this series of articles which state that much of what we are saying is rubbish, and/or that we should focus on the problems with and poor behaviour of Arsenal.  We’ve published some of these, but I think we’ve covered that enough.  If there is however evidence that somehow Der Speigel, the source of the story, has missed, which has not been noted in earlier articles, we are of course interested to see it, with a note on the source of the information.

 

12 comments to How Infantino, now head of Fifa, fixed FFP on behalf of PSG and Man City.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Uefa and FIFA are rotten. Infantino is just a younger version of Blatter. But that is something we knew already. I do admit at first I thought that Infantino might be different. But that hope was quickly over when I saw how he arranged his election.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Excellent series of articles Tony and a big thank you to Der Spiegel for running it.

  • Loving Manc

    Stop with your petty moaning. You actually don’t see the reality do you? FFP was set up to protect clubs from nasty owners who would burden them with debt and potentially leave them in a dire state. FFP then got hijacked by the likes of Bayern, United, Real, Barca and probably you lot, to try and stop new money clubs taking over the old boys club. FFP has not delivered on any of it original points of protection clubs from financial hardship, it has just fed vile hatred from the likes of you to stop other teams from taking over your petty clubs. As a well known rap star once said, “jealousy is a mutha f*ck a”

  • Loving Manc

    Ah, you vet responses first, looks like censorship to get your message across, I dare you to publish my last comment! Nah? Thought not xx

  • I am interested in the notion of the original of FFP and it is not one I have come across before. Can you give evidence?
    Sorry you felt the need to be abusive and derive a notion of “vile hatred” which I can assure you is not present in me.

  • insideright

    Much as I hate Man Utd it is pretty much impossible to accuse them of ‘hijacking’ FFP. They have scores of often ridiculous sponsorships – many of which are very small but justifiable in terms of commercial value.
    FFP exists to prevent dodgy money coming into the game, artificially inflating transfer fees and salaries and thereby hurting the vast majority of clubs who live by the rules and cannot compete at the newly inflated level except via taking on crippling debt. There are may examples but Portsmouth are one of the most spectacular.

  • the mickster

    great article Tony & well written, let’s hope Man City do sue, then we might find out the truth, the fact they won’t probably shows us that it’s all a bit ‘underhand’ shall we say !

  • Sir Joe Skills

    So now I think UEFA and Fifa need someone like trump to drain the swamp.

  • You are an extraordinarily odd person Loving Manc. The details of how we treat comments are given on the page marked “Comments” and there is a clear listing of it on the left side of the page. it sets out the policy. So your discovery is hardly a discovery since we publicise it, and your “thought not” is more a complete lack of thinking.
    The simple fact is that Untold Arsenal is run by a handful of unpaid people who like to do it, and give up their own free time to do it. We’ve been running for over 10 years and published rather a lot of articles which a lot of people respond to. Most people manage to work out what we are and how we work and the very large audience we serve. Sorry it beat you.

  • WalterBroeckx

    In a next article from football leaks I just read a preview of it in a Belgian newspaper who belong to the same group as Der Spiegel they focus on the child traffic exploitation done by Man Cheaty. This is getting dirtier and dirtier….

  • Nitram

    To dismiss all the work Tony has done on this subject, not just now but over many years, as simply “petty moaning” shows just how detached from the real World some of these City fans have become.

    I’ve heard of people getting drunk on success but I didn’t realise you could get ignorant on it !

    Another thing they keep doing is accusing Tony, or anyone who dares agree with him of being jealous.

    Seriously ?

    What we know, and more over what every City fan knows, which is what really pisses them off, is that ANY, and I mean ANY club in the Country would be winning as City are now had they spent £85 Million Nett EVERY SEASON on players for 12 years.

    For pitys sake Gary Neville could win the league with that sort of spending, thats how enormous an advantage it gives you.

    To suggest ANYONE would be jealous of that would be someone who really didn’t understand what it means to of achieved something to be proud of.

    And as for the ‘vile hatred’ comment, that is uncalled for and simply wrong.

    For my part the fact is I have always had a soft spot for City right back to the days of Lee and Summerbee, Asa and Alison.

    I think they are now the best team in the Country with a great manager and play some of the best football. They are a joy to watch.

    But none of this changes anything.

    City have spent ENORMOUS amounts of money eclipsing anything anyone else is doing or has done, over a long period of time. That has given them a massive advantage. That in itself is not wrong but would still, in my honest opinion devalue any of Citys achievements.

    But if the accusations we are hearing about are true then it would be wrong, very wrong.

    I’m sorry but if you really think people are jealous of City I suggest you think again.

  • omgarsenal

    Livid Manc…..the article is from Der Speigel, a German newspaper and well known for its investigative reporting. We aren’t moaning, you are.
    what reality are we talking about LM? Your blinkered BS and criticism, based on what? I bet you didn’t even bother to try and find the original article, now translated into english for all to see. Here are your m ost ignorant errors, to name a few:

    1)FFP was set up to protect clubs from unfit owners who would burden them with debt and potentially leave them in a dire state, while trying to buy success by overspending and hoarding players, like Bayern, City, Real and Barca. Arsenal NEVER hoarded players, spent beyond their means or EVER were bailed out b y their owner,silent Stan…….so show some evidence for what you claim or sod off.

    2) FFP then got hijacked by the likes of PSG, Bayern, Real, Barca and City to try and stop other clubs from challenging their hegemony. The Der Spiegel article does not deny this, nor does Tony’s article, but it shows how some of these clubs (specifically City and PSG) bought Infantino’s cooperation and fawning collaboration in rendering FFP ineffective and toothless.

    3) FFP has not done what it was set up to do. If you had actually read the Der Spiegel article or Tony’s for that matter….you’d realize that the reasons why this happened are clearly elucidated in both reports, but why let your prejudices interfere with your ignorance when you can diss Arsenal randomly and without any evidence!

    4) You are a Manc supporter so go do your homework before slithering on UA and throwing baseless and unsupported accusations around like the nitwit you are. All I can say about you is that you set low personal standards and then always fail to achieve them!

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