By Tony Attwood
One or two bits of the media in the UK have started to cover the incredible upheaval within Uefa, but where the UK media has taken an interest they seem to be playing down its importance, suggesting that it is all a bit of a storm in a very tiny teacup indeed. Except that it once more relates to such delicacies as to how Qatar got the world cup for 2022 and then proceeded to build the necessary stadia using slave labour.
Of course you may feel this is right, and the issue that we raised the other day to the effect that the alleged crooks in Fifa all come from the same part of the same country is a bit odd. As I said, a bit like the whole of Fifa being run from the London Borough of Haringey (wherein lives Tottenham H).
But I would urge you not to be suckered in by the media’s “balanced” approach, which is undoubtedly being proposed by the FA who are desperate for no one to raise issues about why they are spending so much tax payers’ money, supporting this utterly corrupt organisation.
If you’ve not caught up with the almighty scandal then “The noose is drawn around Gianni Infantino” but don’t tell the UK media is a good place to start. As you’ll see this is the biggest scandal at Fifa since the Americans turned up and started arresting people on 27 May 2015.
The key players
- Michael Lauber, the Swiss federal prosecutor
- Giovani Infantino, the head of Fifa
- Rinaldo Arnold, Valais senior prosecutor (Valais being the state where all the key players in this farce / tragedy / fraud grew up).
So people are asking why did Lauber and Infantino meet at least three times in secret – something that is absolutely likely to cause concern. Internal emails that have just been released show how Infantino, at the time, was getting deeply worried about an investigation into a TV contract with corrupt rights dealers. A deal which Infantino had signed.
Infantino is now trying to excuse such meetings by saying, “FIFA officials have met with judicial authorities in other legal systems around the world, and this has never been a problem. In the United States in particular, this collaboration has resulted in over 40 criminal convictions. Accordingly, I continue to fully support the judicial process.”
And yet why meetings were held in secret and not recorded is not clear. Why one of these meetings had to be forgotten by everyone who was there, is also not clear.
Also smouldering away in the background is another story we’ve run here, and which yet again has been utterly ignored by the media in the UK: the tale of the trip in a private jet from Suriname to Switzerland, which cost around £170,000 which was charged to Fifa.
You might recall the story. The president of Fifa was in Suriname for a meeting, and upon presenting himself and his entourage at the airport ready for his return, he was told that the flight he had booked seats on had been postponed due to a mechanical fault. Infantino hired a private jet to get back.
When asked why this was necessary, and why the party did not simply stay overnight in the 5 star hotel that was offered, and then fly back the next day the answer given was that Infantino had a vital meeting and it was important he was back for that.
But there was no such meeting. The £170k seemingly was spent illegally – a crime big enough to have Infantino suspended pending a full investigation.
That he got away with this Suriname plane ride is due to the fact that in 2017, Infantino had sacked the two men on the ethics and compliance teams who would not have accepted such a barefaced lie, and replaced them by what we might call compliant compliance officers.
One such is Colombian administrative lawyer, Claudia Rojas, as chief investigator, who was regularly described as ultra friendly to Infantino’s office (she was often called the “super-amiga”) Given that Rojas had no experience in criminal law and is not fluent in the key languages of Fifa or Switzerland, (English, French and German) it seems to have been difficult for her to call Infantino and his team to account.
Meanwhile the Swiss media have been informed by Infantino’s press office that the boss cannot be automatically removed from office in the event of criminal proceedings against him – which is also seemingly untrue. Article 84 of the code states: “In an investigation, the chairperson of the investigation chamber or the investigator can at any time impose provisional sanctions to ensure that the investigation process is not hindered.” Having Infantino lurking in the wings is sure as anything a hinderence.
The Swiss experience in the Blatter case has shown everyone how important this provision is. As is asking the question, “Can a fifa president who two years after an elaborately arranged meeting, to which he had travelled to Bern, at which he conferred with the Swiss chief prosecutor for hours, now not remember that meeting, be mentally fit enough to run something as complex as Fifa?
And in this context, what should be happening about the private jet trip from Suriname? Should the “super friend” from Colombia remain inactive at the head of the ethics committee?
Fortunately, for those of us who care about football, there are many people in Switzerland who are asking these questions, even though the media in England couldn’t care less. We may be blind, but the rest of the world is watching.
But why will the English media not cover this story properly? Are they covering it up, on behalf of the FA?
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