KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Gianni Infantino approaches his re-election as president of FIFA under new clouds of concern about his secret meetings with the former Swiss Attorney-General Michael Lauber.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, effectively the world football federation’s local newspaper, has revealed a cache of documents alleging to reveal a spying operation undertaken by Qatar, host of last year’s World Cup.

Infantino is standing for re-election unopposed at FIFA Congress in Kigali, Rwanda, on Thursday but will do so with his boast of cleaning up FIFA at issue.

Gianni Infantino: expects four more years

Infantino has been the subject, since July 2020, of criminal proceedings in Switzerland for “incitement to abuse of authority, violation of official secrecy and obstruction of criminal proceedings” arising out of three secret, unminuted, unremembered meetings with Lauber in 2016 and 2017.

At the time Lauber was in charge of investigations erupting out of the United States’ FIFAGate corruption which shook FIFA to its core in 2015. The Swiss authorities followed up on the US authorities’ work to minimal effect and Lauber was forced to resign in July 2020.

The lengthy report in NZZ is based on what it claims to be credible anonymous sources and extensive “official and secret” documentation.

It claims that agents working on behalf of Qatar recorded Infantino and Lauber during one of their secret meetings on June 16, 2017 in Bern. The meeting was arranged in the Hotel Schweizerhof which was, conveniently, where Qatar embassy offices were located.

The property is owned by a company linked to a Qatari sovereign fund.

American intelligence company Global Risk Advisers (GRA), directed by a former executive of the CIA, Kevin Chalker.

NZZ claims the operation was intended to obtain material to blackmail Lauber and was carried out by a US intelligence company Global Risk Advisers (GRA), directed by a former executive of the CIA, Kevin Chalker.

At the time the gulf state was worried that it might lose the World Cup hosting because of corruption allegations and human rights violations.

Qatari authorities have denied all knowledge of the operation and spokesmen for Lauber and Infantino have said, independently, that they had no knowledge of a recording of any meeting.