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As Europe, China and the Americas turn on Fifa, England is left isolated

By Tony Attwood

As we know, (although the English media refuse to mention it) Gianni Infantino, the President of Fifa, has moved himself and his family to Qatar. 

One of the interesting points is that when the rumours of the move started, Infantino publicly denied the story.   Now, when asked, a Fifa spokesman pretends Fifa told them media last October that Infantino would divide his time between Zurich and Doha.

Fifa and Infantino can only be wishing that Europe’s media was as compliant with Fifa’s wishes as the English press.

But in Europe questions continue.  Such as, has Infantino really become Inspector in Chief of the new stadia?  Or as the Swiss paper SZ suggested, is he “checking the air pressure of the match balls for the preliminary round of the World Cup?”

This is the first time in the history of world sport that any president has personally moved to a venue, let alone taken his entire family there.  Besides which the autocratic rulers of Qatar have long since declared the venues built and ready.  All it takes is a tour of inspection.

Meanwhile Sepp Blatter is putting the boot in, as it were, telling SZ that Infantino is behaving like a fugitive, as well he might, given the way the Swiss are turning the screw over his illicit meetings with the head of the Swiss legal system.

Although for a fugitive it is a life of luxury with a staff of around 20 servants, bodyguards, and his legal team.  And there is the question of the Emir’s own private fleet of planes which are said to be at Infatino’s disposal.  Which is handy since the last time he decided to hire a private plane to get back to Switzerland from central America, for a meeting that, investigators found that the meeting didn’t actually exist.  But still, Fifa paid up.  Which means the FA and the rest paid up.  Which means us idiot British taxpayers paid up.

SZ is also saying that “Well-informed circles report that the boss also wants to remove the world federation itself from Switzerland… Fifa – away from Zurich? The communications department says nothing in response to a specific question.”

Meanwhile Fifa’s competition department has also left Switzerland, in their case going to Hôtel de la Marine in Paris.    Which is also interesting since that is the building that houses the private art collection of the ruling family of Doha… which is to say Qatar.  And yes it really is the COMPETITION DEPARTMENT that has moved there!

This means all that will be left of Fifa in Switzerland will be the Fifa administration.   The story is that Infantino wants that in Russia, but that Putin is not keen.  After all, he knows a dubious overlord and when he sees one.  Although SZ puts it another way saying, “The more openly the football official’s pomposity is celebrated, the more firmly the doors in the Kremlin and elsewhere close. Fifa even fears that the Russian top sponsor Gazprom will withdraw after the World Cup,” focussing instead on supporting the more creditable Uefa. “Infantino’s arch-enemy.”

So will Infantino get away with all this, as a way of hiding not just himself but also Fifa from the newly awakened Swiss justice?

Certainly, it is hard to find a good word said about Fifa and Infantino not just in Switzerland but across a lot of Europe.  The UK, of course, is the exception where the arse licking FA would just love to get into bed with Infantino and Fifa for one very simple reason.  At last, they would have someone with them whose crimes and idiocies are greater than their own.

And of course, this would be helped by the abject refusal of the British media to touch the biggest football scandal story of the past five years: the criminal investigations against Infantino over his secret meetings with the former Federal Prosecutor, Michael Lauber.

And there really is some major covering up to be done too, since in 2020 Fifa withdrew a bribery complaint against Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, the Qatari boss of Paris Saint-Germain and of the television station BeIn Sports. As a result, the Swiss Federal Criminal Court had to acquit the Qatari of the charge of “inciting dishonest management” over the issuing of TV rights for the World Cup in 2026 and 2030 to… BeIN sports.

Meanwhile, Uefa and Conmebol (who run Copa America) see Fifa as a danger.  And China also hates Infantino after he turned up at the World Economic Summit in 2019 telling the world that he was second only in importance to Donald Trump.

According to SZ, Infantino may now be planning a joint Middle East  / Israel world cup in order to get himself a Nobel Peace Prize.   And this because talks over a Chinese World Cup are floundering because the Chinese don’t trust Infantino to hand over the cash from the event.  As a result the Chinese multinational Wanda is looking like pulling out of football sponsorship where Fifa is involved.

The crumbling may well have begun.  But, please, don’t tell the UK media.  We don’t want to upset their self-satisfied smiles and total inability to do any football research whatsoever.

 

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