by Tony Attwood
This piece follows on from “Fifa in chaos. England is silent but Europe is up in arms”
We ended y esterday with Infantino not only being investigated for corruption in terms of Fifa and using Fifa’s money but also being investigated for incitement to treason. Infantino is meanwhile also trying to convince everyone of his innocence in relation to the criminal investigation into a Uefa TV contract that he had himself signed.
The Federal Administrative Court has now ruled that Switzerland’s chief prosecutor lied about the “forgotten” 2017 meeting with Infantino, a forgetfulness which the court has ruled was “arranged” in consultation with all those involved. The top legal man in the country has been found to be crooked.
It is also noted that in 2016 Infantino sacked the entire Ethics Committee of Fifa including Cornel Borbely and Hans-Joachim Eckert – the criminal experts who had worked to suspend both Sepp Blatter (head of Fifa, and Infantino’s supervisor) and Michel Platini.
Now I’d like to pause here because the removal of Blatter and Platini was pretty big stuff. They were the arch-criminals who ran international football (you might remember them) and it was the Ethics Committee that ran those two to ground. And then Infantino (now head of Fifa of course) comes along and sacks the committee that did all that hard work. And I ask
WHY WOULD HE DO THAT??????
For in one go all the serious experts who were the few people never suspected of any corruption in international football were removed, including governance expert Miguel Maduro (a former EU Advocate General). Replacing him was Tomas Vesel of Slovenia.
So now to understand exactly what was going on at this point we must break away and take a look at Tomas Vesel who came in either as a new member of Gianni Infantino’s inner group, ensuring that The Boss was protected, or as a genuine part of Fifa’s reform programme involving weeding out all corruption. But which?
Tomaz Vesel took up the role as interim independent chairperson of Fifa’s audit and compliance committee, replacing Domenica Scala who had been forced to resign from that post two months before. Infantino denied that he had organised the resignation of Scala at the Mexico City congress after the two men had a well-documented almighty row over the size of Infantino’s salary.
Now what normally happens after a resignation of this magnitude is that there is a pause as the various factions meet to decide who to support for the senior post. But this time the Fifa Bureau which sets the timetables tried to bring in a replacement within a couple of weeks of Scala’s resignation. This was Vesel (mentioned above) and questions were immediately asked about how independent Vesel was; an important notion for the head of the audit and compliance committee.
To see how powerful Vesel had suddenly become we have to realise that he was now chairman of the panel overseeing spending including being chair of the committee that set Infantino’s salary at $2 million.
Thus all eyes turned on Vesel. Would he insist that 2 million dollars a year for the top dog was enough, or accede to Infantino’s demand for more?
At this point Infantino made a speech saying that Vesel joining Fifa could help rebuild confidence in the fact that everything in Fifa’s financial world is in good order noting that Vesel’s “expertise and international experience will help reassure stakeholders and restore trust in Fifa.”
Vesel had in fact worked for three years as president of Slovenia’s Court of Auditors, “the highest body for supervising state accounts, the state budget and all public spending in Slovenia… and with numerous European governments and the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.”
Vesel pledged to ensure that Fifa henceforth operated “in accordance with international standards and continues down the path of good governance that has been set forth in the reforms.”
But then just as one might have a bit of hope that Fifa was brought under control, Domenico Scala resigned as chair of the Fifa Audit & Compliance Committee after the Mexico City congress passed a motion out of the blue which removed their independence.
If you still have the will to live at this point, let me emphasise what is going on. Central to the work of the Audit & Compliance Committee is the fact that it MUST MUST MUST be independent. It can’t operate if it is not. But the story is that the row about Infantino’s salary and expense account was still going on (we can notice again the story about the hiring of the private plane to fly him from South America to Switzerland to attend a non-existent meeting).
It is now reported that Scala was not happy about Infantino’s gigantic salary and expense account so Infantino pushed him out. And that is very much the essence of what is going on throughout.
Anyone who expresses any concern about anything Infantino does is removed. And to go back to the beginning Infantino also had Switzerland’s chief prosecutor in his pocket!!!!!
So to summarise the story thus far:
Fifa is corrupt at the very top, with the top men skimming off vast amounts of money, and ensuring that they are not caught by having their people sit on all the committees that might ask questions about where the money goes.
Even the people who are appointed to monitor the use of the massive expenses accounts and salaries seem incapable of carrying out even the most basic checks and are corruupt.
What’s more Fifa is allowing all sorts of dodgy deals to go on, mostly in relation to TV rights.
The Swiss chief prosecutor who might investigate all this (as it all takes place in Switzerland) has also been implicated in the case, has now been removed and is accused of various crimes including it seems, treason.
The English media by and large won’t touch this case at all – presumably because they are engaged with Fifa in trying to get the world cup in England, and don’t want Fifa discredited. The Guardian did however make one comment (although they’ve now stopped covering Fifa once again), and we’ll come to that next time we pick up this mess and get our hands dirty.
That will be shortly.
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