Features 10th May 2019

Gianni Infantino could face criminal charges in Switzerland

The Swiss public prosecutor’s office (Bundesanwaltschaft) is to hold a media conference at 3:30pm (CET) today, where it is expected to announce if it will pursue criminal charges against FIFA President Gianni Infantino. In November last year, the Swiss canton of Haut-Valais appointed a special prosecutor to investigate whether Rinaldo Arnold, Senior Prosecutor for Haut-Valais, had accepted a number of gifts from Infantino in return for arranging informal meetings between the FIFA President and Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber. The Football Leaks project had earlier reported that Arnold had informally collected information for Infantino on the Bundesanwaltschaft’s investigations into corruption at FIFA.

In addition Theo Zwanziger, former President of the German football association (DFB) has filed separate criminal charges against Infantino, reports the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ). Zwanziger also alleges that Infantino’s offering of gifts to Arnold, a childhood friend, are contrary to FIFA’s Code of Ethics and should therefore be investigated by its Ethics Committee.

It is understood that three informal meetings took place between Lauber and Infantino. FIFA told the NZZ that the fact that the meetings took place in public were an indication that FIFA was ready to cooperate with the Bundesanwaltschaft, and argued that the gifts to Arnold did not contravene its Code of Ethics.

Infantino could face an additional lawsuit. “I’m going to take legal action against Gianni Infantino and FIFA”, the organisation’s former President, Joseph (‘Sepp’) Blatter told Die Weltwoche. “The information and the various communiqués put about by FIFA concerning my income are divorced from reality, and consequently are defamatory. Even worse, this information was linked to income from other people, which led the facts of the matter being falsely represented.”

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