By Notme Guvna
Bellinzona is a historic Swiss town, and the capital of the canton of Ticino in Switzerland. The town is famous for its three castles that have been UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 2000.
It is beautiful, it lies at the foot of the Alps, it stretches along the river valley, and unless you are an intrepid tourist you’ll never have heard of it let alone actually been there.
But now the rest of Europe (except the UK) knows a lot about it, because it is the focus of all international football news (except in the UK).
For here is not being held the trial of the year, or the trial of the decade or the trial of the century. This is the focus of the biggest trial football has ever seen. A trial that comes with such a worldwide impact for football that it might just, finally, change everything.
Because here the Federal Criminal Court, sitting in Bellinzona, we have the scene of a very special hearing (unless you are in the UK).
On the defendants’ bench we have the beautiful mega-rich, all-powerful football men. Jérôme Valcke, the former Fifa secretary general, Nasser al-Khelaïfi, the minister of state in Qatar, sports channel mogul and president of Paris Saint-Germain, and… oh the other guy. Who has failed to show up. He’s a Greek fixer. But he’s seemingly fixed it not to be here.
And of what are they all speaking you may ask? Why are they gathered? Well, for no reason other than to discuss the media rights for the Football World Cups and those pesky little details of who gets what and how and whether maybe someone made a mistake by being too blatant about the bribery and corruption.
This case has already cost Michael Lauber his post as Attorney General of Switzerland – the top law officer. And we now find the former Attorney General is under criminal investigation for getting along too well with the boss of Fifa, who is now himself answerable to the Supreme Court.
And obviously we have Infantino, because where Fifa is, Infantino is. And where Fifa is charged with corruption then Infantino is charged with corruption.
Plus we are coming up to the annual congress of Fifa which was due to be held in Addis Ababa at the beginning of June, but due to the viral outbreak was moved to September and will happen on line.
And what is obvious (although not in the UK where the case is not mentioned in the media) we can now see is that Infantino has lost the following of Fifa. Perhaps anxious to cover their own backs, those whom Infantino could have counted as his solid supporters have started to look the other way. Indeed there is even talk now of their being an “uprising” against Infantino in order to stop Fifa crumbling into the dust (although it may be too late for that).
But as I just noted, the next big meeting will be online, and no one knows if they can kick out their boss on line. Which is why they are awaiting the outcome of the criminal investigations against Infantino.
To backtrack… at the end of July, the Swiss special prosecutor Stefan Keller opened a case against Infantino over his illicit secret meetings with the chief prosecutor of the Swiss judiciary, federal prosecutor Michael Lauber.
So out went Lauber and now we have investigations against Lauber on suspicion of abuse of office and against Infantino for inciting it.
And we have that private jet affair that Untold managed to find and which is still never mentioned in the UK press, where Infantino hired a private jet flight (cost now stated in court of $200,000 paid for by Fifa) to fly him across the Atlantic for a meeting that didn’t exist.
Lauber, the head of the Swiss judiciary, claimed immunity from prosecution, but that was kicked out. And as the case has been explored it has become clear that Infantino has stuffed his cronies into all the committees that were set up to watch over him and stop him raiding the till. An arrangement that led the FA and other associations to carry on paying vast fees to Fifa, while bidding to hold the world cup.
In fact we now know that all those bodies that are supposed to look after things like “ethics”, “governance” and “compliance” have all been filled with Infantino men and women who have the job of covering Infantino’s back.
People like María Claudia Rojas who Infantino made chief investigator. She is an administrative lawyer with no criminal law expertise and no knowledge of German, English, or French – the languages of Fifa.
And what did she do? She spent weeks with her family at the Fifa 5 star plus hotel in Moscow at the 2018 World Cup. And she has worked hard, but seemingly only to keep all those naughty people we hear about in the Caribbean and Africa away from investigation.
So people like Ahmad Ahmad, head of the Africa Association CAF, who has ongoing international criminal investigations into his financial dealings, and who is loyal to Infantino.
People like Ramón Jesurún, the Fifa executive from Colombia who was personally fined $83,000 in July in the course of a multi-million dollar corruption investigation into his national association.
Fifa is finally falling apart – not least because while the Swiss seem to be willing to have Fifa in their country, what they couldn’t take was Fifa corrupting the entire Swiss legal system.
And the response in Britain? Oh, it’s just those silly foreigners doing their thing. Come the next world cup we’ll be there. And come the next world cup bidding process yes, of course, we’ll throw millions of pounds at it. And maybe we’ll get four votes next time, which will be a 100% increase on what we got when Fifa gave it to Qatar.
Chaos in Europe; silence in England
- Can Uefa’s “Final 8” competitions kill off Fifa’s attempt to take over the universe?
- Is Fifa now threatening the media’s future access to the world cup?
- Fifa in chaos. England is silent but Europe is up in arms
- PL refs make almost 3 times as many errors per game as Swiss refs. Why?
- Federal court rejects challenges filed by Fifa secretary Jérôme Valcke.
- The man whom Sepp Blatter called a megalomaniac
- Arsenal v Lens: the team, the home/away form and the strange coincidences
- Arsenal v Lens: they had a poor start but are now flying
- Where there is power, money and greed there is corruption
- Why do Tottenham players get fouled more than those of any other club?
- The media, the League and PGMO. An insidious agreement rears its ugly head