ZURICH: FIFA president Gianni Infantino has again come under scrutiny from the world football federation’s ethic committee, according to media reports in Germany writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The claims come at a delicate time, two weeks before a FIFA Congress in Bahrain at which ethics bosses judge Hans-Joachim Eckert and lead investigator Cornel Borbely may be replaced.
Infantino, former general secretary of European federation UEFA, was elected head of FIFA in February last year in place of banned Sepp Blatter; his mission was a challenging one, to rescue the reputation of the body which had been trashed by revelations from the FIFAGate investigation by the United States Justice Department.
Last year the ethics chamber studied internal complaints against Infantino over his expenses in office, including flights costs. In the end it was decided the evidence was too flimsy to stand up.
Now the German news magazine Spiegel is claiming that Infantino is coming under review again over whether sought to exercise undue influence over last month’s presidential elections within the African confederation.
The ballot saw the ousting of long-serving Issa Hayatou by Madagascar FA head Ahmad Ahmad, with the considerable support of Zimbabwean Philip Chiyangwa, who is president of the regional COSAFA association.
The ethics chamber never comments on whether investigation are being undertaken.
Infantino sparked controversy at FIFA Congress in Mexico last May when he obtained a vote withdrawing the independence of the juidicial panels, which include the ethics committee.
Audit committee president Domenico Scala resigned in protest but Eckert and Borbely decided to work on and have continued to conclude investigations resulting in suspensions and fines of senior football officials.
These included, only this week, Richard Lai from Guam who is a member of the audit and compliance committee. Lai, arraigned by FIFAGate investigators in New York, had pleaded guilty to changes of accepting bribes.
If Infantino does want to replace Eckert and Borbely in his quest to oust survivors from the Blatter regime it would appear contradictory, given that they were the men who effectively removed the former president and opened the way for Infantino’s accession to the top job.