ZURICH: FIFA president Gianni Infantino is facing legal complications in Switzerland over Football Leaks revelations concerning his friendship with a senior judicial official.
The Swiss judiciary has appointed a special prosecutor to investigate links between Infantino and Rinaldo Arnold, chief prosecutor in the FIFA president’s home region of Upper Valais.
Leaked documents published in German news magazine Der Spiegel and 13 other European media outlets alleged that Arnold had been a guest of Infantino at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and possibly earlier at the 2016 FIFA Congress in Mexico and Champions League Final in Milan.
A statement from the Public Prosecutor’s Office said it had “decided to entrust a special prosecutor with the task of establishing precisely the facts and determining whether or not they would be subject to criminal law.”
Arnold has not been suspended from his duties.
The Football Leaks investigators claims to possess email exchanges in which Arnold thanks Infantino for tickets to the benefit of family members.
He had also allegedly offered to inquire on behalf of Infantino, while he was still general secretary of European federation UEFA, about whether the latter might become subject to investigation from the Federal Prosecutor’s Office over information emanating from the Panama Papers.
The Office of the Swiss Attorney General is still supervising an investigation into possible fraud and money-laundering from former FIFA directors, partly in connection with the 2018/2022 World Cup awards and as a consequence of evidence gathered by the United States in its FIFAGate investigation.
Good news for Infantino, however, was a statement of support from football associations in Africa and the Caribbean after a joint conference in Cairo.
It said: “We presidents of the Africa and Caribbean Zonal associations raise our voice against the actions of a certain European press aimed at denigrating and slandering the president and the administration of FIFA.
“Faced with this scandalous campaign, we want through this message mark our distance vis-à-vis the abject behaviour and false allegations aiming at discrediting the achievements and positive changes introduced in football by President Gianni Infantino since his ascent to the top of FIFA.
“We are proud to express our confidence and unwavering support for his clean-up policy of World football. We will fight with the last energy this campaign of malicious denigration campaign.”
Last month the African football confederation declared its support for Infantino in his pursuit of re-election next year.