KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: FIFA president Gianni Infantino has announced the wrapping-up of the world football federation’s internal inquiry into its culture of corruption and said that now it must focus once more solely on football.
Infantino, who succeeded disgraced and banned Sepp Blatter last year, was announcing the wrapping-up of inquiries and the handing over of all evidence gathered to the Office of the Attorney-General of Switzerland, Michael Lauber.
FIFA descended into meltdown in May 2015 after the detention in Zurich of seven senior officials on indictments from the United States Department of Justice arising out of its FIFAGate investigation into a $200m bribery and money-laundering involving more than 40 senior football directors in the Americas.
Blatter then ordered an internal investigation from FIFA’s own lawyers in the effort to head off direct action against it from the US and Swiss authorities.
Infantino said: “FIFA committed to conducting a thorough and comprehensive investigation of the facts so we could hold wrongdoers within football accountable and cooperate with the authorities.
“We have now completed that investigation and handed the evidence over to the authorities, who will continue to pursue those who enriched themselves and abused their positions of trust in football
“FIFA will now return its focus to the game, for fans and players throughout the world.”
In a statement FIFA said its internal investigation had seen “more than 2.5 million documents reviewed and numerous key witnesses interviewed.”
It added: “Using the evidence obtained from the document reviews and witness interviews, FIFA’s external counsel prepared written investigative reports on issues of primary concern to the Swiss and US authorities.
“These reports, which total more than 1,300 pages and include more than 20,000 pages of exhibits, have been shared with the Swiss authorities.
“The OAG has acknowledged FIFA’s close and consistent cooperation. FIFA understands and has agreed that the reports will also be made available to the US authorities.”
FIFA said that because the criminal investigations by the OAG and DoJ were ongoing, it was legally restricted from releasing or commenting on the findings from its internal investigation.
FIFA also said the findings have been used to reform its governance, compliance and finance functions. Late next month FIFA will issue a detailed report summarising these changes.
Infantino thus hopes to be able to talk from a “clean sheet” when he addresses FIFA Congress in Bahrain on May 11.