KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —– Just over five years ago, as she ferociously tore into corruption-battered Loretta Lynch described how directors had used the world football federation as a “vehicle to line executive pockets to the tune of $110m.”
Lynch was then Attorney-General of the United States, unveiling the scope and reach of the so-called FIFAGate investigation which led to corruption charges against more than 40 international football bosses – at least half of whom still await sentencing in the US.
Other senior members of Lynch’s Justice Department team described events at FIFA as the “World Cup of fraud.”
Now, however, five years later and out of office since 2017, Lynch has undertaken a 180-degree turn influenced by what she believes she has seen since Gianni Infantino succeeded disgraced Sepp Blatter as president in 2016.
Lynch, speaking at the opening of a FIFA Compliance Summit, had nothing but praise for what Infantino describes as ‘the new FIFA.’
She said: “It was not too long ago that the world of football found itself in a state of upheaval and chaos as a result of the systemic corruption and misconduct that was able to flourish over the decades.
“Since then, together with all of you, FIFA is an organisation that has made great efforts to educate, train and promote a culture of compliance.
“I am heartened to hear of FIFA’s renewed commitment to transparency and ethical behaviour and its desire to improve the compliance environment throughout all of football with the important objective of safeguarding this sport.”
In these circumstances it was a little unfortunate for Infantino that he is currently under criminal investigation by the Swiss authorities over a series of meetings he had undertaken – shortly after the FIFAGate explosion – with the then Swiss Attorney-General Michael Lauber.
Infantino, who has described this particular investigation as “absurd”, told the conference that FUIFA remained committed to compliance and good governance.
He said: “Since my election in 2016, FIFA has worked tirelessly to successfully implement reforms in the fields of governance and compliance. Today, the new FIFA now stands here as a credible, accountable, modern, professional and transparent organisation – one which aims to be at the service of football and aims to ensure that football makes an active and positive impact on society.
“In 2016, we brought in transparency and accountability at every level – including mandatory auditing, term limits for senior officials, transparent bidding processes for FIFA competitions as well as establishing a dedicated compliance subdivision.
“It is now more important than ever, particularly in these difficult times, for football to continue to move in the right direction by working together and ensuring that the right governance and compliance structures and processes are in place at all levels.”