KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- FIFA president Gianni Infantino is ready to justify himself and the manner of his presidency thus far to the ethics committee.
Confirmation of Infantino’s confidence in his behaviour since being elected in succession to the banned and disgraced Sepp Blatter followed insistent reports in Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom of his likely appearance shortly before the ethics committee.
A FIFA statement said: “The FIFA president has stated publicly he fully respects the independence and work of the ethics committee and that he would provide, if required, whatever information necessary to facilitate any potential review by the committee.
“The president has made clear that he had acted appropriately and in accordance with FIFA’s code of ethics.”
Any initial interview with Infantino on behalf of the ethics committee would be undertaken with Robert Torres, the Chief Justice of Guam, since the investigatory chamber chairman, Cornel Borbely, is Swiss, like Infantino.
Torres’s report would then deem whether Infantino should face a full formal investigation which could prompt his provisional suspension for 90 days.
The 46-year-old Swiss lawyer has been the subject of an increasing stream of critical leaks from in and around the world football federation over the last two months.
Infantino won the election to succeed Blatter in February with the support of little more than half of the worldwide membership of 209 national associations (Infantino polled 115 votes in the second round compared with 88 for Asia’s Sheikh Salman).
The energetic manner in which he then attacked his new role created more upset with the resignation of audit chairman Domenico Scala and the sacking – among others – of finance director Markus Kattner.
Recently the leaks attack reached new virulence with the publication, in the Swiss newspaper Sonntagszeitung, of a lengthy memorandum allegedly sent by a FIFA employee to Sindisiwe Mabaso-Koyana, acting chair of the audit and compliance committee since Scala’s enforced exit.
The memo set out a long list of complaints about Infantino’s expenses in performing his duties (including cars, chauffeurs, travel expenditure, flights). Various of the allegations had emerged over the previous weeks.
One of Infantino’s most contentious weeks concerned the Mexico City congress in May which led to accusations that he had reversed the reform process.
Infantino then hit back, notably at Scala, in an interview distributed to the German and Swiss media.
Infantino should have been under no illusion that bringing in his own choices for a ‘kitchen cabinet’ – including new secretary-general Fatma Samoura – would have created not only concern among FIFA staff but increased their unease over job security after tough enough times for them already.
Further assault on the credibility and stablity of FIFA included the resignation of KPMG as auditor apparently amid concern over some of the transactions it had observed.
This raised further doubts issues over the world federation’s ability to maintain its crucial ‘victim’ status in the criminal investigations being run by both US and Swiss authorities.
One of the areas in which Infantino has left himself vulnerable was in refusing to agree to the pay package proposed by the remineration committee.
Infantino told the FIFA Council he considered it an “insult” that he was being offered a gross SFr 1.9m, rather less than the two-thirds Blatter was paid (or, perhaps, over-paid); Blatter also had a bonus provision which Infantino’s offer does not.
While Infantino has had no financial agreement with FIFA his personal expenditure in carrying out his duties has remained open to critical scrutiny.