Gianni infantino faces ever more critical questions – and goes on the counterattack. FIFA's defense after accusations against the president, however, fuels doubts about the independence of its ethics committee and the effectiveness of european financial fair play.
The world governing body of soccer reacted to reports of possible interference by infantino in the work of autonomous supervisory bodies with sharp criticism of media and ex-officials. "It is no surprise that some of those who have been removed, replaced or are unhappy continue to spread false rumors and innuendos about the new leadership," FIFA said.
The allegations will also play a role with europe's top officials. "We will analyze the situation within UEFA and then decide together on how to proceed," DFB president reinhard grindel told the german press agency. He had spoken with UEFA president aleksander ceferin over the weekend about the accusations. "It is a well-established practice that UEFA members on the FIFA council coordinate among themselves and act together," said grindel, who is one of nine UEFA representatives on the governing body of the world governing body.
Infantino, as UEFA secretary general, is alleged to have colluded with clubs in 2014 during investigations into paris saint-germain and manchester city for financial fair play violations, according to a report in "der spiegel" magazine. In the end, the european football union's club financial control body (CFCB) handed down comparatively lenient sentences to the clubs that receive funding from qatar and abu dhabi.
FIFA appealed in its statement to the german press-agency on the accusation that the UEFA administration could "support" the CFCB. Article 11 of the regulations explicitly states that this support should serve the body "in the fulfilment of its tasks.
The "spiegel" quoted from an alleged e-mail from infantino to man city club boss khaldoon al mubarak. In it, infantino is said to explain, among other things, details of a ruling and consequences for the club from the english premier league. Both man city and PSG agreed to settlements in which they were each fined 60 million euros. The repayment of 40 million euros was promised, if the clubs kept to agreements.
Information from high-ranking association officials raised new questions about the financial rules of the game. In the past, several, mostly smaller clubs have been banned from the european cup because of these fines. Karl-heinz rummenigge had already called for a tougher UEFA crackdown on clubs backed by investors: "when I have owners like that, money is relative," bayern munchen's chief executive said a year ago. "You can't hurt much with fines. It hurts when you deny the license or deduct points."
According to reports, FIFA head infantino has also made proposals for the revised guidelines of the independent ethics committee. Thus, in response to a draft by vassilios skouris, chairman of the FIFA judicial ethics chamber, infantino had replied to him with several references. It should be changed that preliminary investigations against functionaries can only be carried out on the instructions of the presiding person of the investigative chamber. So it is in the new guidelines that went into effect this year.
"In his function as an experienced lawyer, it would be completely natural for him to have such an exchange with mr. Skouris," fifa said in response to a question about the matter. But just one question from the new head judge of the independent body to the FIFA president is already causing new suspicion among critics. "I have always said that the new code of ethics is infantino's work – this is the proof," hans-joachim eckert, former head of FIFA's judicial ethics chamber, told the "spiegel" magazine. Infantino's interference was "a clear violation of the code and statutes of FIFA".
The new appointment of the two ethics committees with the colombian maria claudia rojas as chief investigator and skouris in may 2017 had caused international criticism.
The FIFA statement went on to say that none of the media reports contained anything "that amounts to a violation of laws, statutes or regulations". In addition, the world federation referred to a general statement by infantino, who is seeking re-election next year. "My job involves discussion, sharing documents, drafts, ideas, whatever, on many, many, many, many topics," the 48-year-old said most recently. "If i just stay in my room and don't talk to anyone and can't do anything, how can i do my job properly?"